Pressuring Pakistan

Over the weekend, Afghan president Hamid Karzai told U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman that Washington needed to increase the pressure on Islamabad to fight insurgents. Militants with links to Pakistan are launching attacks inside of Afghanistan, something the Obama administration has discussed in the past with Islamabad. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon even traveled to the UAE recently to meet with Pakistan’s army chief of staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ask him to crack down on the Haqqani network. Karzai reportedly told Grossman that the Afghan people were losing patience with “all these suicide attacks and terrorism,” according to an Afghan official.

In Italy on Friday, commanders of the NATO operation in Libya gave Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta some positive news—the mission is almost at a turning point. The commanders told Panetta that Colonel Qaddafi has lost control of his former forces. Rebel leaders may be close to taking Sirte, a loyalist stronghold, and that would be a step closer to ending the operation, according to the military leaders. The commander of the NATO air campaign is sounding a slightly different note. General Jodice told the New York Times that pro-Qaddafi forces have been surprisingly “resilient and fierce.” Opposition forces have not yet been able to take Sirte.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Obama is “deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt.” He called for all parties involved to exercise restraint and said that the violence should not get in the way of elections. “These tragic events should not stand in the way of timely elections and a continued transition to democracy that is peaceful, just and inclusive,” Carney noted in a statement.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland meanwhile said that there is “a clear escalation of regime tactics” going on in Syria. She commented that recent attacks by pro-government mobs on opposition activists that took place in broad daylight are bold moves, and “clearly designed to intimidate others.”

And Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said yesterday that good progress toward democracy is being made in Myanmar. "Dramatic developments” are under way in the country, he added, with the new civilian-led but military-backed government engaged in talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.