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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

US-PAKISTAN: Obama-Tied Think Tank Calls for "Dramatic" Shift By Jim Lobe*

A think tank closely tied to U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is calling for a "dramatic strategic shift" in Washington's policy towards Pakistan, one designed to both strengthen civilian institutions and promote an effective counter-insurgency against al Qaeda and indigenous Islamist extremists in the tribal areas along the Afghan border who increasingly threaten the country's stability.

In a report released here Monday, the Centre for American Progress (CAP) is also urging Washington to pursue its goals in Pakistan as part of a broader multilateral effort and a regional strategy designed to address Islamabad's security concerns with Afghanistan and India.

"The United States needs to make a shift from a reactive, transactional, short-term approach that is narrowly focused on bilateral efforts," according to the 71-page report, "Partnership for Progress".

"Instead, a more proactive, long-term strategy should seek to advance stability and prosperity inside Pakistan through a multilateral, regional approach," it argued, adding that Pakistan "will pose one of the greatest foreign policy challenges for the incoming Obama administration."

The report, the product of a year-long study that included consultations with a U.S.-Pakistan Working Group consisting of 33 of Washington's top Pakistan specialists, is likely to be regarded as a bellwether for where the Obama administration will take U.S. policy.


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