President -elect Barack Obama is seriously considering giving former ambassador Richard Holbrooke a key role in handling diplomacy in south Asia, a move that would put one of America's most prominent international troubleshooters in the middle of trying to resolve the thorny and interrelated problems surrounding India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to several sources familiar with the transition.
The appointment would represent early recognition by Obama that the region poses perhaps the biggest foreign policy challenge for his incoming administration. Afghanistan has been beset by increasing violence and a resurgent Taliban, and the president-elect has promised more attention and resources for the fight there. Many foreign policy experts say Pakistan has not done enough to curb extremist activity in the regions along the Afghan border, contributing to the violence inside Afghanistan. Meanwhile, long-standing tensions between Pakistan and India have been aggravated by last week's terrorist shootings in Mumbai. Inside India, those attacks are widely blamed on Pakistan -- unfairly so, according to Pakistani officials.