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Swat peace treaty not an encouraging sign: Holbrooke

world Updated: Feb 19, 2009 11:04 IST

Troubled over Pakistan government's concession to the Taliban in the Swat Valley, a top Obama administration official has said the US would not like "bad guys" to get hold of any territory in the country.

"We are troubled and confused in the sense about what happened in Swat, because it is not an encouraging trend," Richard Holbrooke, the Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan told the PBS news channel in an interview.

Having just returned from South Asia wherein he met leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, Holbrooke said the Pakistanis are shocked at the fall of the picturesque Swat, which is after all a resort they all went to for vacations.

"So we have a situation in the area which is very serious. This is what we inherited," he said.

This is for the first time that an administration official has spoken clearly against the peace deal between the Taliban and the Pakistan government.

"Previous ceasefires have broken down and we do not want to see territory ceded to the bad guys. The people who took over Swat are very bad people," Holbrooke said.

The issue, he said, will be pursued during the next week's visit of a Pakistani delegation headed by Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Secretary of state Hillary Clinton had earlier said that Islamabad's efforts still needed to be "thoroughly understood" before making any comments.

Holbrooke said this development would be pursued at a very high level when a Pakistani delegation headed by its Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, visits Washington next week to hold discussions with the officials and participate in the Afghan review process.

"The military would be represented in the Foreign Minister Qureshi's delegation, and you can be sure that this issue would be pursued at very high levels in our dialogue next week," he said.

Asked if the Pakistani military and the ISI are willing to make commitments in the publicly announced goal of Pakistan's President to get rid of the Taliban, Holbrooke said it is too early to arrive at any conclusion.

"This is a very important question, which we are exploring in depth now. I have rarely seen an issue in Washington, which is so hotly disputed internally by experts and intelligence officials, is the one you raised," he said.

"Let me say for the purpose of this interview that we are engaged in very intense discussion with the military leadership of Pakistan and the ISI about this particular issue," he said.