Washington: As President Barack Obama prepares to announce his Afghan policy, top Senators have asked him to include Pakistan in it, arguing that the country is "more unstable" than in the past and is directly linked with insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.
"You have a situation where al Qaeda has reconstituted itself. You have Pakistan which is even more unstable today than it was in the past. All these things have developed over the last several years," Senator Jack Reed told the CNN in an interview.
"The President has to mention Pakistan."
"What is the implication of that war there, and Pakistan itself?" Senator Richard Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, told the CNN.
Noting that Afghanistan is crucial, Lugar said, “We have been concentrating on the number of troops and so forth. Now the President will need to outline that, and he will need to do so with confidence, that this is not a few troops here, a few troops there, a reevaluation each time through.”
Reed said, Obama has to speak to the American people, remind them why the US is there, and also lay out a strategy, not just the reflexive response to a recommendation, but a strategy that involves protecting the homeland from al Qaeda.
"And that involves a presence in Afghanistan. It involves being influential in Pakistan. It involves having a combination of intelligence, counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations, all of these things," he said.
I think he has to make a speech that shows that all of our efforts are pointed to our reduced presence in Afghanistan.
“But I think he has to also indicate again and again how critical this is to our national security," he said.
“The elements, the al Qaeda elements that attacked us on 9/11 are still on the Afghan-Pakistan border. We still have to keep up the pressure. But I think he has to make it very clear that this is not an unending responsibility of the United States, without limit," Reed said.
Senator Lugar pointed out the issue of cost. You know, we have, for over eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Bush administration, not paid for any of those military operations.
Now that is coming home to reckon in terms of a huge deficit. We have to move forward and support this operation responsibly," he said.