Pakistanâ€™s President Asif Zardari has finally confirmed what President Barack Obama argued during the campaign, a truth the republicans claimed was evidence of his weak intellect in regard to foreign policy. Mr. ZardariÂ recognises the Taliban wasÂ left to itself during the previous administration andÂ has been able to reconstitute and return with the force of arms that can threaten the very stability and survival of countries like Pakistan.
Speaking in a sixty minutes interview to be aired on Sunday, parts of which were released today, Zardari stated “The Taliban have a large presence in huge amounts of land on our side. Yes, that is the fact,”
Connecting the dots is something President Obama reiterated just this week when he said, there was no doubt terrorists were operating in safe havens in the tribal regions of Pakistan, and the United States wanted to make sure Islamabad was a strong ally in fighting that threat. Pakistaniâ€™s foreign ministry confirmed Obama and Zardari have been developing a good working relationship and spoke as recently as this Wednesday. During the 60 minutes interview Zardari also seemed to acknowledge an awareness of what most responsible foreign policy experts have observed for years, under Bushâ€™s foreign policy; Pakistan had been actively lulled into a state of denial about the Taliban. “Our forces weren’t increased and we have weaknesses and they are taking advantage of this weakness,” he said. One substantive aspect of Pakistanâ€™s willingness to see the errors of having trusted in George Bush is the fact Zardari has now put some 120,000 soldiers into the fight against the Taliban, despite very vocal pro-Taliban propaganda they are being used to fight a proxy war for the United States. The substantial troop deployment should also begin to put to rest rumors first circulated by the last administration, he lacks the full support of the Army and intelligence services.
Zardari was quite clear â€œWe’re not doing anybody a favor we are aware of the fact it’s Taliban trying to take over the state of Pakistan. So, we’re fighting for the survival of Pakistan. We’re not fighting for the survival of anybody else.”
While addressing the differences between India and Pakistan is sure to become a long-term focus of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, getting Pakistan on the same page in respect to the danger the Taliban pose is a major accomplishment in itself and suggestive of the positive course American foreign policy is beginning to take under the new President.
While the budget and resources devoted to American foreign policy was more or less gutted in favor of militarism and the now repudiated Bush doctrine, Team Obama has made a point of assuring allies and foe alike in word and action, his administration will return to traditional American values and the principle of seeking when possible, diplomatic resolution to conflicts and reserving military force as a last resort.
The administration also intends to develop and implement a policy of smart power to combat global terrorism. This blue print for helping to resolve the growing threat posed by terrorism is a use of diplomacy and direct aid in an attempt to circumvent the ability of terrorist leaders to recruit the next generation of disciples along with deployment of our military in strike forces to destroy terrorist safe havens. The overall strategy is being praised by both military commanders on the ground and veteran diplomats being called out of retirement to help rebuild the State Departments diplomatic corps which had more or less been mothballed during theÂ last administration.