Washington: As the doctors of the George
Washington University Hospital were taking him to the
operation table, Richard Holbrooke, US' special Af-Pak envoy
told them that he had most pressing issues to tackle,
including ending the war in Afghanistan.
State Department spokesman P J Crowley, who spoke to a
number of persons in the operation room where Holbrooke was
taken after he fell ill on Saturday, gave some account of the
In an effort to calm him down, the doctors held
conversations with him discussing his concerns, the most
prominent among them being his Af-Pak responsibility.
"There was a, you know, lengthy exchange with
Ambassador Holbrooke and the medical team, probably reflecting
Richard's relentless pursuit of the policy that he had helped
to craft and was charged by the President and the Secretary
with carrying out," Crowley said.
But the surgeon in question was not of Pakistani
origin, as reported in some media outlets, the senior
administration official told reporters.
The surgeon was of Egyptian origin, well known to
Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"At one point the medical team said: You've got to
relax. And Richard said: I can't relax; I've got -- I'm
worried about Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"And then after some additional exchanges the medical
team finally said: We'll you what; we'll try to fix this
challenge while you're undergoing surgery. And he said: Yeah,
see if you can take care of that, including ending the war,"
"It says two things about Richard Holbrooke, in my
mind. Number one, he always wanted to make sure he got the
"And secondly, it just showed how he was singularly
focused on pursuing and advancing the process and the policies
in Afghanistan and Pakistan to bring them to a successful
conclusion," he said.
Crowley said Clinton has retained the same team which
Holbrooke created for his Afghanistan and Pakistan agenda.
Frank Ruggiero, Holbrooke's key aid, has been moved up
to be the Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and
"He will lead the SRAP structure that Richard
Holbrooke constructed, and will really serve as one of his,
you know, finest legacies, assisted by two deputies, Dan
Feldman and Vikram Singh," he said.
Vikram Singh is of Indian-origin.
"The SRAP structure that will continue on in his
absence combines individuals and experts from across
government. It incorporates international partners into this
"It is expressly the kind of organisation that he felt
was absent in Vietnam and for which he has built a crack team
that will continue the policies that the administration
pursues within the context of Afghanistan and Pakistan,"
First Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 09:28