War with Iran? 5 ways events overseas could shape Obama's second term.

The threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program is the most urgent example of the foreign-policy challenges that face President Obama in his second term. Here are four others.

3. Afghanistan and Pakistan

Rahmat Gul/AP/File
Afghan girls read the Quran during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in this 2011 file photo.

Obama faces the tricky task of drawing down the American military presence in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, as agreed among NATO partners, while reassuring a problematic Pakistan that the US is not abandoning the region.

The US is keen to see Pakistan relinquish its longtime strategy of harboring and even supporting the Taliban as a means of maintaining a measure of influence in Afghanistan. But Pakistan appears to want to wait to see if arch-rival India increased its influence in Afghanistan as the American role wanes, harboring the militants as a hedge.

Among the questions hanging over US-Afghanistan relations: Will Afghan troops be ready to assume responsibility for the country’s security post-2014? Will the US-Taliban negotiations that never really started ever get off the ground and produce any results? And what will happen to the gains that many Afghans – in particular women and girls – have made in education, health, and stature over the long American presence?    

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