U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry Thursday further signaled that a strong American military presence will remain in Afghanistan long after July 2011, when President Obama plans to end his troop surge.
Speaking at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Relations before a group of diplomats, non-governmental organizations and Afghan citizens, Eikenberry drove home the Obama administration’s sometimes contradictory message.
To the Afghan government: act with urgency. To the Afghan people: We will not abandon you.
“After eight years of assistance to Afghanistan, many Americans and many members of Congress are impatient to see results,” he said, while assuring that “our military commitment will not end or decline even as our combat forces [withdraw].” [continued…]
An unusually large barrage of missiles fired by remotely piloted U.S. aircraft killed 16 people in the tribal area of North Waziristan on Thursday, a possible indication that the United States plans to escalate such attacks after Pakistan declined to step up its operations there.
The attacks came in a week in which top U.S. military officials visited Islamabad and asked Pakistani authorities to do more to go after insurgent groups that are based in North Waziristan but are focused on killing U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials say that their military is stretched thin by an operation in South Waziristan and that now is not the time to expand the campaign into the adjacent territory. American officials have countered that if Pakistan does not go after the groups, the United States will. [continued…]