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

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