Afghanistan is the focus of an international conference in The Hague on Tuesday. Last week, President Obama unveiled a new U.S. strategy for that country — a strategy that includes neighboring Pakistan.
Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, met with Pakistani officials Tuesday. They told him they are serious about rooting out militants in the lawless tribal areas that border Afghanistan.
Holbrooke tells Renee Montagne that there's growing concern by Pakistani officials that the violence is spreading from the tribal areas eastward to the city of Lahore. On Monday, a Pakistani police academy there was attacked.
The Obama administration is asking Congress for more resources for economic and development assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Holbrooke says.
The administration, he says, is "putting very heavy emphasis on the simplest of facts: that al-Qaida is still around, it's mainly in western Pakistan, and it's planning — I'm sure as we speak it's trying to plan new attacks on the United States or Europe or other countries fighting in Afghanistan."
While attending the conference in the Netherlands, Holbrooke also has been meeting with World Bank officials. He says they reminded him that Afghanistan used to be a food exporter. It produced, among other things, grapes, wheat, saffron and pomegranates. But he says all that was destroyed when the Soviets invaded, and the country has been torn apart by war and feuds in the nearly 30 years since.
Holbrooke says Afghanistan has more potential than people think, and it deserves a chance.