A major U.S. newspaper is reporting that President Obama's new war
strategy for Afghanistan includes expanding Washington's ties with
Pakistan, including additional military and economic cooperation.
The Washington Post reports Mr. Obama sent Pakistan's president
a two-page letter earlier this month that pledges a long-term
relationship, including more development and trade assistance, improved
intelligence collaboration, improved military assistance and more
public praise and less public criticism of Pakistan.
The report says the letter also warns the Pakistani government "with
unusual bluntness" that it cannot continue using banned militant groups
for its policy goals.
The newspaper reports the Obama administration has concluded that U.S.
efforts in the region cannot succeed without Pakistan's cooperation.
The report says U.S. officials also believe the long-term consequences
of failing to counter the militant threat in Pakistan far outweigh
failure in Afghanistan.
A senior administration official who requested anonymity told the
newspaper that without "changing the nature of U.S.- Pakistan relations
in a new direction" the United States will not succeed in Afghanistan.
President Obama has been meeting with his top advisors for months to
create a new strategy in Afghanistan. On Tuesday he is scheduled to
make a public statement outlining his new policy.
The Washington Post reports that while most of the public
attention has focused on the number of additional U.S. troops Mr. Obama
plans to send to Afghanistan, the situation in Pakistan has been at the
core of the deliberations.
On Sunday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged Pakistani leaders
to take tougher action against al Qaida militants in their country.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani responded to the call on Monday,
saying that Mr. Brown's request seemed "out of context" because
Pakistan has already made more sacrifices in the war against terrorism
than NATO countries fighting in Afghanistan.
Mr. Gilani is scheduled to meet with Mr. Brown in London on Thursday.