March 14th, 2010
03:47 PM ET

Envoy: U.S.-Pakistan relations significantly improved

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has seen a "significant improvement" under the Obama administration, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan said Sunday, attributing recent Taliban arrests to increased communication between the two governments.

"No government on earth has received more high level attention," Ambassador Richard Holbrooke told CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" of the dozens of visits by top U.S. officials to their counterparts in Pakistan. 

"All of this, plus the recognition that the distinction between Afghan Taliban and Pakistan Taliban - if it ever existed - is eroded, has led the Pakistanis to take a very much more forward leaning position," Holbrooke said. "Plus, above all, the backlash from the (Taliban's) attacks in places like Lahore or Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Kashmir, Karachi, have all contributed to an evolution." 

Holbrooke cited the arrest of the Taliban's No. 2 official, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, as evidence of Pakistan's evolution from a country on the verge of collapse to a more stable political system now. 

Baradar is one of at least six Taliban leaders to be arrested in the past month, according to Pakistani officials. Some analysts say the arrests underscore a change in Pakistan's policy brought on by pressure from the United States for higher levels of cooperation. 

Speaking about the NATO-led fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Holbrooke also cited an improved relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who endorsed a massive military offensive - dubbed Operation Moshtarak - last month in Marjah in southern Helmand province against the Taliban insurgency. 

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has said Afghan and international forces will continue counterinsurgency operations in the coming months in the volatile Kandahar province, where a series of explosions Saturday killed at least 35 people in what the Taliban called a "message" to McChrystal. 

Holbrooke saved his harshest words for al Qaeda when asked about the state of the terrorist organization now. Holbrooke said the leadership is under "fantastic pressure" since losing about half of its top 20 people in the past year. 

"It looks like they are less an organization that plans operations now than an organization that summons people to aspirational jihad," he said, adding that brutal tactics by the group may be alienating its followers. 

"Their excessive brutality, the backlash against things - like the bombing of the wedding in Jordan, the beheading of people, the videotape in Swat of the flogging of the young girl - have created a revulsion against them," he said. "It's pure nihilism. They stand for absolutely nothing except destruction, and they destroy people's lives in a random and insane way."

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Filed under: Pakistan • World
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. BG

    Pakistan has the bomb, so it's probably a good thing Holbrooke tries to intercede on part of their arrests of Gadahn and Baradar. It won't do any good though. We should not expand that war. It's too costly anyway, too risky.

    The terrorists were given up by al-Qaeda leadership as double-agents by the way....not arrested as purely by chance. This is an opportunity Pakistan will use to curb NATO hegemony in the region.

    I quite frankly, think it's an opportunity they deserve considering how many civilians have been murdered by Obama's misplaced orders to increase 'revenge' style attacks (e.g. drone missiles).

    March 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cooliosis

    The sad thing is that Pakistan has been helping the U.S. for so long in the war on terror.. and only now are the relations being seen as significantly improved...

    March 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Daniel

    Isn't this kind of like improving relations between Russia and East Germany during the Cold War?As if they were ever stained in the first place?! Imagine that!

    March 14, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. clint

    They stand for absolutely nothing except destruction, and they destroy people's lives in a random and insane way. Are we talking about the Taliban, or the GOP?

    March 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lance

    six billion dollar aid package from the usa i bet relations improved.

    March 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kaiser b

    Whatever it took. I am very glad with the way Obama administration's foreign policy. This not only validates the current administration's policies but also is a rebuke to the way Bush's white house and the way it dealt with foreign countries. International partnership is the best way to go against terrorism.

    March 14, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rajesh

    But what I do not understand is how the country that generate terrorism and be in bed with it can actually fight against it. It is like Russians fighting Vodhka!, All the terrorists who planned and executed daytime massacre in Mumbai are still roaming in Pakistan. Several other operatives who caused destruction in Pune, Ahemadabad, Delhi etc are still out there. Now these people are believed to be fighting terrorism, shame to the double standards of the USA. Now it has become a business for the mercenary government to send monthly bills to Washington for "reimbursements". Who will ask for reimbursements to fight lawlessness in their own country to another country: only Pakistan.

    March 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. trouble shooter

    What utter rubbish. USA has once again bribed Pakistan by giving it a free hand in Afghanistan, neutralizing India's current advantage. As a result, Pakistan is turning off the terrorist spigot. USA's short-sighted policies ALWAYS comes back to bite it. Save this comment, and refer to this after 5 years, after the next major terrorist attack in USA, originating in Pak/Afghan.

    March 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Katherine Riebe

    I wish there was a way to brainwash the Talibans to put down their weapons and take up classes in art and music. These people are so violent and have no clue what peace or love is. Steve Jobs should send them free iPods, but disguise a background programming scheme to unprogram the minds of the Talibans. That ought to solve that problem!

    March 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Christine

    it's be nice if the U.S made peace with it's own people lol. What a joke this is.

    March 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Subrata Datta

    This country was carved out of the India in 1947. Ever since it has had a one point agenda to run the country – how to fix India. Elected governments or military dictatorships of which there were four tin pot generals who ruled Pakistan, have all y followed this one point agenda religuously.

    As a result the country after sixty years of existance is impoverished and a economic disaster. The miltary weilds real power and crooks have been elected. No nation will invest a nickel in the country called Pakistan

    Today things are at a stage where Pakistan could get completely Talibanized and be taken over by them lock stock & barrel – nukes, aircrafts and all other hardware. Still that would be acceptable to the rulers of Pakistan provided India bleeds with the promised "thousand cuts". In other words Pakistan would cut off their nose to spite India

    In this scenario the Amricans are heaven sent for the country. Milk them as possible as long as they are there next door. And the Americans trust and believe them and take them at their word. Since 2001 to 2009 Pakistan played possum in hunting down the Al Quida and the Taliban in their territory. Now they are putting across a show and allowing the wanted insugents to migrate to other areas in Pakistan.The detained terrorists in Pakistani prisons are being released to csarry out terror strikes in India.

    Back in 1971 the Nixon – Kissinger duo had openly sided with the military dictator – Yahya Khan pf Pakistan who had unleashed a reign of terror on the poor Bengali Muslims of the erstwhile East Pakistan and the Pakistan army butchered thousands ad thousands of innocent Bengali Muslims. The civilzed world had condemned this collaboration between the U.S.A and the butchers in Pakistan..

    History may repeat itseelf in a different form with the Taliban in power in Pakistan after the Americans helped them come to power with money arms and material and then living in fear of being nuked. The weapons American soldiers face in Afghanistan came from the U.S.A

    March 15, 2010 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |