Islamabad, Pakistan: He came, he saw, he listened, but Richard Holbrooke kept his own counsel on his maiden visit to Islamabad in his new role as US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Even as the troubleshooter of US President Barack Obama’s rounded off a four day visit to Pakistan in Lahore on Thursday, trouble brewed in Afghanistan, his next destination.
Officials there said Taliban fighters who killed 26 people in Kabul in an attack on government buildings a day earlier had been exchanging text messages with their mastermind in Pakistan.
Holbrooke, best known for his work in South-East Asia and the former Yugoslavia, is new to the region and needs to learn fast in order to come up with a fresh strategy to pacify Afghanistan and eliminate the Al Qaeda threat from Pakistan.
Over the past few days Holbrooke met leaders of Pakistan’s 10-month-old civilian government, its generals, and journalists and analysts.
Holbrooke got a taste of how bad things are in Pakistan, and will see more in Afghanistan and in India, where shock and anger over the slaughter of at least 183 people by terrorists in Mumbai in November has still to die down.