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Mr. Holbrooke was responding to questions about unusually strong public comments by both Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the past two weeks.

Mr. Obama called the Islamabad government fragile and questioned its ability to provide basic services, while Mrs. Clinton accused it of “abdicating” to militants.

Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general, said negotiating with the Taliban is a “waste of time.”

“[Taliban leaders] do not accept constitution of Pakistan, democracy of Pakistan. How can one talk with them?” said Gen. Masood.

• Nicholas Kralev and Jon Ward contributed to this report in Washington.