Page last updated at 02:02 GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2009

US 'needs new Pakistan strategy'


Shah Mehmood Qureshi 'optimistic' about new US foreign policy

US strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent years has not worked, Pakistan's foreign minister has said.

But Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the BBC he was optimistic about US President Barack Obama's "different" approach, which is to be unveiled in coming days.

He said Mr Obama understood the global impact of success or failure in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

But the minister stressed that there should be no foreign troops or US missile strikes on Pakistani soil.

'Cannot afford to lose'

In Washington, in London and in Islamabad it is now accepted that the new focus of the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taleban needs to be Pakistan, and specifically its border areas with Afghanistan, says the BBC's Damian Grammaticas.

"Washington is rethinking because Washington thinks that the strategy that they had adopted over the last seven to eight years has not worked," Mr Qureshi said.

"To what extent have they succeeded in Afghanistan, that is the litmus test. Forget our weaknesses, what have you done there?" the minister added.

Mr Qureshi said the fight was one "we cannot afford to lose".

But he said he was optimistic, due to President Obama's "different" approach.

"They're listening, they're realising how important this challenge is for not just us, for this region but for the globe," he said.

Pakistan's top diplomat also said that the White House had told him that Pakistan and Afghanistan were now Washington's top foreign policy priority.

Mr Qureshi also appealed for better equipment and training for Pakistan's armed forces.

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