Tokyo hosted a meeting of donor countries last Friday which ended up making a commitment of $5 billion to help Pakistan meet the multifarious challenges it faces. Making an impassioned plea for supporting his country in its resolve to fight the threats, the president explained in great detail how Pakistan interest stood intensely intertwined with that of the free world. As the situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan in the last two years, the spillover syndrome seeks to spread instability/despondency among the people who were being offered a pledge of financial help. The newly established elected government following the ouster of General Musharraf is struggling against the threats inherited from the outgoing regime. In addition, real politik practiced by the second major party etc is making the waters muddier even though Rome is burning in a way. To add insult to injury, Indian politicians are maintaining an aggressive propaganda onslaught due to domestic compulsions a la the ongoing 'national elections. Ambassador Holbrooke displayed his penchant for presentable precision in dealing with his daunting assignment in AfPak. Having remained focused on his mission since his induction into his new office, he appears to have registered the gravity of the malaise haunting us all even while his president has not completed his 100-days in office. This by itself is an improvement par excellence over the schizophrenic skills utilised by the last administration. Holbrooke appreciated the realistic response of the friendly countries as evidenced by the vows of monetary backing which should play a positive role. However, he reflected his peerless perception of the AfPak disaster by advising all around him to be patient as the fight was going to be a long haul. By the same corollary he advocated a framework of assistance for Pakistan till peace was won. As per Reuters he emphasised: Five million dollars are not enough, we should after congratulating the results yesterday be very mindful of the fact that the problem is far from over. Looking back one can discern that ignorance as well as some 'personal agenda appears to have guided the neo-con lobby which misled a nave George W into the mess the US etc face. The most opprobrious was the role played by Tony Blair who should have known that Afghanistan is no walkover. Its history, which includes the British discomfiture during the 'great game of the colonial years with the Russian Empire, proves it has remained a 'graveyard of empires. He should have as a friend of the US, and a well-wisher of democracy, counselled caution while pursuing those who can be charged with having committed the 9/11 atrocity. The history, topography, religion/culture have, so far, always defined the reaction of the locals etc towards any occupation force which scores an initial victory due to the asymmetry of arms etc. No wonder Sir Olaf Caroe, the most experienced/perceptive author about the area, who was also the last colonial Governor of NWFP, had emphasised that the Afghan wars appeared to start once they have ended. The Americans may have become the only superpower in the world following the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1990, thanks to the jihad waged by the Afghans/Muslims with US/Pak/Saudi collaboration. Its association with this area has been rather diplomatic/or on a need-to-know basis, unlike that of the British colonial contacts, which constituted a nuisance when the zero hour struck. A number of experts in the US etc strongly believe that the trimming of CIA following the collapse of Cold War also aggravated the information-deficit. As George Tenet, Bill Clinton or George W director CIA of many years, tended to depend essentially on technical etc espionage, the human intelligence got put on the backburner. So when the crunch came, a clueless president could only propagate his macho policies without knowing what he was sowing for his future generations. Taking a leaf out of his erudite president realism, Holbrooke has mastered the essentials of the harsh hazard that hangs about AfPak etc which can cast a shadow on the West in future if not addressed properly. It appears that he must have also been a privy to the learning and knowledge/expertise of General Petraeus, now leading the Central Command. Of late the media, in the US and all over the world, is awake to the atrocities committed by the last administration which has swelled the ranks of the 'insurgents. Accordingly, it is now being designated as ending up as Obama Vietnam. President Obama is fully conscious of the objective realities and his unusually active diplomacy that reflects his brilliance as well his solicitude. His special envoy therefore confided in his friends at the Tokyo moot the optimal way out of the quandary facing the world democracies. To eliminate the threat, the countries assembled at Tokyo meeting had to stay the course, no matter what happens till a viable peace had been worked out. He elaborated: I cant set a specific goal for 2012, when President Obama term gets completed, But I will say this the situation in Afghanistan cannot be the same in 2012. President Obama is trying hard to salvage US honour through 'soft power alongwith some hangover of the gung-ho tactics of his predecessor. He was sagacious enough to designate aid to Pakistan as being 'a down-payment for US future. Such conciliatory lingo/actions would undo some of the colossal damage done to the power/credibility/goodwill of his country in the last seven years. However, killing of innocent civilians as a 'collateral damage of the drone attacks is seen as being counter-productive in the area. While even Karzai has been protesting against the same, Pakistan opposes the use of drones by NATO despite the allegations that these take off and land in our territory. Perhaps to make such strikes seriously selective, Pakistan has asked the US for the supply of drones. A certain columnist here has drawn a rather tendentious conclusion that the drone strikes are very useful. I wish he could go and meet the people at the receiving end to know the ground realities. General McKiernan, the NATO commander in Kabul, has been busy apologising for the past mistakes to the elders in various hard-hit provinces. Such unintended civilian casualties create bad blood against the killers. Holbrooke manifested his insight into intricate insurgency in AfPak while addressing the Tokyo moot. He pointed out that besides the hardcore Taliban there were those who suffered bereavement of their relatives in military operations while still others who joined Taliban ranks due to fear of starvation. Sounding very practical, he stressed: When you talk of reconciliation, its reaching out to the last two groups. The Afghans, as per a Reuters report, are forced to live in caves in Mulayan. Tragically a recent photo issued by AFP shows well-dressed/educated Afghans/children crying while being taken into custody by the police in Jakarta for planning to go to Australia illegally. Such sufferings etc would radicalise Muslims in a big way unless justice is done. An AFP report indicates that Zawahiri has alleged: It is America that is killing Muslims. He also expressed his doubt if Obama could undo injustice done to Muslims and the oppressed. Robert Fiske, the authority on the area/Asia, condemned in a recent article the fallacious policies being followed by the West etc. Posing a question: And what should we be doing?, he answers: Trying to resolve the wound of Kashmir, of 'Palestine, of 'Kurdistan of Lebanon. Obama appears to be well-meaning but peace will come if he can defy 'special interests influencing US policy and win concord/friendship among the oppressed Muslims whose majority is still moderate. The writer is a former secretary interior