U.S. President Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Romney shake hands at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton. — Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: “No, it's not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when asked in the third and final presidential debate if it was time for the United States to divorce Pakistan.

Mr Romney, however, endorsed the drone strikes, saying that he supports the Obama administration’s policy on this key issue.

Mr Obama did not directly address this issue but when confronted by the moderator, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, he said he was also engaging the countries where the United States was fighting terrorists.

Mr Obama also avoided responding directly to questions about Pakistan and neither the moderator nor Mr Romney pressed him for an answer, reflecting an apparent understanding on not concerning the president on sensitive security issues.

“I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it's widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely,” Mr Romney said, while endorsing the current US policy on these unmanned aircraft.

He said he felt that President Obama was “right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.”

Pakistan was mentioned 25 times in the 90-minute debate but mostly by Mr Romney.

US President Barack Obama mentioned Pakistan only four times, twice when talking about his decision to raid Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad.

“And you said we should ask Pakistan for permission. And if we had asked Pakistan permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him,” said Mr Obama while quoting from Mr Romney’s earlier statement on this issue.

“I can tell you at the same time, that we will make sure that we look at what's happening in Pakistan, and recognize that what's happening in Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in Afghanistan,” said Mr Romney when asked if he would still withdraw US troops from Afghanistan if he was told that Kabul was not yet ready to shoulder security responsibilities by 2014.

“And I say that because I know a lot of people that feel like we should just brush our hands and walk away,” he said.

“And I don't mean you, Mr President, but some people in our nation feel that Pakistan is not being nice to us, and that we should walk away from them,” he explained.

“But Pakistan is important to the region, to the world and to us, because Pakistan has 100 nuclear warheads and they're rushing to build a lot more. They'll have more than Great Britain sometime in the relatively near future.”

Mr Romney noted that Pakistan also had the Haqqani Network and the Taliban within its borders. “And so a Pakistan that falls apart; becomes a failed state, would be of extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and to us,” he warned.

That’s why, he said, he believed the United States will have to “remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan” to move towards a more stable government and rebuild its relationship with America.

“And that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met,” said Mr Romney, defending a bilateral congressional demand that US aid to Pakistan should be made conditional to its performance in the war against terrorists.

“So for me, I look at this as both a need to help move Pakistan in the right direction, and also to get Afghanistan to be ready, and they will be ready by the end of 2014,” said Mr Romney while defining his policy for the Pak-Afghan region.

President Obama, when asked the same question, explained how he withdrew American troops from Iraq, refocused on Afghanistan and delivered a surge of troops to that country.

His administration also had decimated al Qaeda's core leadership in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The moderator then recalled that Gen. Johan Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan, says Americans continued to die at the hands of groups who were supported by Pakistan.

“We know that Pakistan has arrested the doctor who helped us catch Osama bin Laden. It still provides safe haven for terrorists, yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars,” he said.

“Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?” the moderator asked.

“No, it's not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation, as I indicated before, the Taliban, Haqqani Network,” said Mr Romney.

“It's a nation that's not like others and it does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there. You have the ISI, their intelligence organization, is probably the most powerful of three branches there. Then you have the military and then you have the civilian government.”

Mr Romney warned that this was a nation, which, “if it falls apart, if it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there and you've got terrorists there who could grab their - their hands onto those nuclear weapons.”

Pakistan, he noted, was in a region which was important for the United States and technically it was an ally even if “they're not acting very much like an ally right now.”

That’s why, he said, he believed “we have some work to do there.

The Republican presidential candidate said he was not blaming the Obama administration for a strained relationship with Pakistan.

“We had to go into Pakistan. We had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do. And that upset them, but obviously there was a great deal of anger even before that,” he said,

“But we're going to have to work with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible course than the one that they're on.”

For Pakistan to change its course was important for them and for their nuclear weapons.

“It's important for the success of Afghanistan because inside Pakistan, you have large group of Pashtun that are Taliban. They're going to come rushing back in to Afghanistan when we go.”

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Comments are closed.

Comments (105)

Honest Belief
October 23, 2012 6:21 pm
It may not be time to DIVORCE Pakistan but nonetheless DIVORCE is eminent. Pakistan should always be wary of Americans as they cannot be trusted. We have been through that phase before. America is only for Americans and no one else. They give lip service to get what they want. USSR was split by a strategic plan evolved in 1940s by the Americans. Pakistan beware.
October 24, 2012 10:59 am
Excellent post.
October 24, 2012 6:13 am
Allah only helps those who help themselves...
Ahmed Sultan (India)
October 24, 2012 1:54 pm
Will Russia make good ties with you?
October 23, 2012 9:05 am
Neither will they give us a 'talaq' nor will we file for a 'khula.......this a marriage made in heaven for them. We don't really matter
October 23, 2012 7:19 am
this is the big game......... of power.... no matter obama or romeny.. all would be same! in the end Pakistan nuclear assets are itching them.
October 23, 2012 8:25 am
Pakistan was never a stable country anyway.
October 24, 2012 10:56 am
The problem is deep within us. Time to wake up and face the truth.
October 23, 2012 7:25 am
Yes, divorce the west and form an allaince with Al-Qaida, Taliban, Somalian Al-Shabab, etc.
Naeem Malik
October 23, 2012 7:33 am
It is time for us to get out of this forced and oppressive marriage but can we trust our ruling elite to file for divorce? Probably not.
Abdur Razzaque
October 23, 2012 8:29 am
Don't feel great with this comment. This is an usual practice and commitment towards Pakistan since its creation and mingled its international relations exclusively with the USA. In fact with this kind of heart throbbing assurance Pakistan suffered a lot and still it is going on. Is this not the time to stand on your own feet? If Pakistan can, I am pretty sure, it will usher a new era and remarkable influence for Pakistan in the world politics.
Mohammad M Ali
October 23, 2012 3:24 pm
We need to disengage from this War ASAP
October 23, 2012 12:39 pm
And Almighty ALLAH will not change the course of a nation unsless that nation want to change its own course, and that includes me and you.
Mohdudul Huq
October 23, 2012 11:44 am
Without Pakistan, US has no friend in southeast Asia.
October 23, 2012 11:43 am
speechless, our politicians work with the formula>,, more aid, more warfronts that leads to more killings.
October 24, 2012 3:13 pm
I like your thinking. The choice is clear. Strive for peace in the region and we (the region) shall be a place where we do not need the Amricans! The India Pakistan partition and the consequent crisis was unfortunate. But now is the opportunity to realise our rightful place on earth. How can the Americans with impunity use drone on a foreign soil, when a legitmate government is ruling! Enough is enough!!
October 23, 2012 11:32 am
What is your answer to your question?
October 23, 2012 10:21 am
shehzad, are you with us or with them?
Boom Boom ...
October 23, 2012 10:25 am
This is our most beloved Army that is stick to US. and had allowed drone attacks...
October 23, 2012 11:35 am
Now every body knows how much is PAKISTAN important for the world peace. i think neither Romney nor Obama has such kind of courage that they can declare war on the brave nation. It is pakistan who makes Americans fool. Search and read the history of PAKISTAN how they stands during the worse times. INSHA ALLAH time will come when the whole will live under the banner of PAKISTAN.
Boom Boom ...
October 23, 2012 10:29 am
You are right. Even its people don't stay together for more than few year. Divorce/Separation has become just a joke for them.
Abdul Rehman
October 23, 2012 11:35 am
How can America make decisions on future of Pakistan? Almighty Allah will look after Pakistan.
October 24, 2012 6:08 am
Do you mean Pakistan is like a woman who gets to keep the money after divorce?
Lin Piao
October 23, 2012 11:41 am
Ali, actually Pakistan needs millions of people like you. People who have a positive attitude like you.
October 23, 2012 9:07 am
That was all game of words between Obama and Romney, as they all know who run American polices.
October 23, 2012 11:46 am
yeah its time to make it suffer more for war that we enforced on it
October 23, 2012 6:39 am
Well said!
October 24, 2012 6:43 am
No my dear americans have one thing with them and its called US aid.
October 23, 2012 8:47 am
The fact that our country was mentioned in such a negative framework is disheartening and saddening. I would much rather people talk about our nation due to the progress we make in uplifting our people out of poverty and educating them. Instead our govt. has let us down so badly that we aren't lifting anyone out of poverty but still fighting and going backwards. The world has moved on, look at our two big neighbours to the East, we also need to move on and make progress. when we are strong economically then we won't have to take anyone's aid or be bullied by a country that's half way round the world.
October 23, 2012 10:06 am
What about billions of dollars Pakistan got from USA in addition to other fringe benefits? Will these be returned before we go to stone age?
Abdullah Hussain
October 23, 2012 10:07 am
It is time the leaders of Pakistan understood the message clearly. The need of the hour is to learn to live with minimum or no support from most of the good weather friends. Pakistanis are well aware of the name of our trusted friends. If someone wants to befriend us just to meet their security needs then the depth of such friendship is quite shallow. It is time our leaders should think of doing something that will navigate Pakistan out of troubled water. Please do something positive for our own motherland before it is too late.
October 23, 2012 10:05 am
Pakistanis would prefer to have an importance for their hard work and good deeds rather than these power games of the powerful.
David M
October 23, 2012 9:54 am
Divorce doesn't apply in illegitimate relationships!
Roney Indian
October 23, 2012 8:52 am
Great debate, No American likes Pakistanis for their double games to extract billions on this bogus war on terror and being safe haven to terrorist ! yet they cannot say upfront as it defeats the whole object of this war. Pakistan would fall apart without american Aid and also with extremists controlling its country. The only way for Pak is to mend its ways and be loyal to US!
October 23, 2012 6:22 am
What gives Romey the idea that we are interested in this relationship ? it is the Americans who need us more then we need them and if they think we are as naive as their American Public then they need a reality check.
October 23, 2012 6:24 am
its all rubbish!!! No one is going to change its policy, every new presitend elected in america is like its predecessor and they all want to destablize Pakistan
October 23, 2012 5:31 pm
"INSHA ALLAH time will come when the whole will live under the banner of PAKISTAN" come out of ur dreams.
Kishwar Haseen
October 23, 2012 7:23 pm
its time for oil to divorce the dollar
October 24, 2012 6:10 am
sab kuch allah hi karega? awam kuch nahin karegi?
October 23, 2012 5:04 pm
October 24, 2012 6:41 am
Did you studied about whats going in USA in your pakistan studies classes?
Captain Pakistan
October 23, 2012 1:03 pm
This debate doesnt instill any confidence in me as a Pakistani, high time we stopped acting like a hired gun, time America respected our interests in the region, Pakistan must also be accepting of America's interests in the region (superpowers deserve super diligence), both need to find an amicable working relationship that is better for all in the neighbourhood and the long term prosperity, peace and destiny of this great region! Right now the presidential race depicts the typical mindsets that all politicians around the world excel at, playing to the masses. Obama for better or worse, for me seems the lesser of the two evils.
October 24, 2012 6:26 am
Typical Americans, they only use people and later throw them away!!
October 23, 2012 2:11 pm
Allah gives you two hands ,and one brain , to use it carefully & dont wish more from Allah
October 23, 2012 7:33 am
As of 2006, the United States was believed to maintain an arsenal of around 9,960 intact warheads, of which 5,735 were considered active or operational, and of these only a certain number were deployed at any given time.(wikepedia).....is there any other country who has more nuclear warheads than US?why isnt any country making an issue on that?
Captain Pakistan
October 23, 2012 1:06 pm
no permanent friends, just interests...
October 23, 2012 5:29 pm
Akash If we compare the stats there would be more people dying in India then Pakistan , as for poverty one cannot walk on footpaths in Bombay and what about child labor ? women being subjected to degradation ? and what about nagaland mizuram tripura kashmir and human rights violations ? remember when you point one finger at someone then there are always three pointing back at you
October 23, 2012 11:59 am
But so far he has not ... at least noy for the last 60 years
October 24, 2012 12:38 am
You know - there have been some quite intelligent and most importantly hopeful comments- with people like you - maybe we're not screwed after all.
parvez the great
October 24, 2012 1:43 pm
Jinnah engaged USA for his own purpose which was to elevate Pakistan to fight beyond its capability and his successors intensified that effort. They haven't done badly as Pakistan today possesses some of the deadliest weapons and also succeeded in punching beyond its weight. USA likewise used Pakistan for its own purposes and ended up screwing Pakistan where it has become a joyous experience for both parties excluding the people of Pakistan. People of Pakistan in turn have begun to understand this, but for them the horse had already bolted before they came to appreciate the bleak reality and they are the ones well and truly stuck - can't turn this way or that way as either way they are screwed. Tough indeed.
October 23, 2012 11:51 am
As Pakistanis we must start accepting responsibilities. Allah will help those who help themselves. We cannot say that Almighty Allah will look after us and not do our part. This is the problem with Pakistan and it's new generation. Accept responsibility, educate yourself, work hard, and build a nation that our generations are proud of. We are an extremely capabale and intelligent nation but we must work hard and have the will power to conquer any obstacles.
October 23, 2012 12:10 pm
force our media to turn to positive news , they will convonce the world PAKISTAN IS GREAT
Meer Ali
October 23, 2012 12:24 pm
Pakistan should be very careful for its future decisions. If any thing done carelessly may harm Pakistan
Pranab Roy
October 23, 2012 7:46 am
Can Pakistan take a " DIVORCE" ? No Sir. It is not as simple : Talaak.. Talaak.. Talaak.
October 23, 2012 8:08 am
Pakistan is very important internationally ..... unfortunately for all the wrong reasons like fostering terrorism, human rights infringement, religious intolerance, nuclear proliferation ...... kudos to the Pakistan ....
Keti Zilgish
October 23, 2012 11:48 am
All states have no destiny other than failure. The best that any one can do is to fail a state. All states are capitalist fronts.
October 23, 2012 4:41 pm
Then...what do you suggest Keep both sides happy or unhappy and pass hard times.
October 23, 2012 9:40 am
after Talak.. ? God knows what will be the future of Pakistan.
October 23, 2012 11:49 am
Almighty Allah just want the muslims to live as He has told them to, but looks like our policy makers have forgotten it
October 23, 2012 12:34 pm
See the result of forced marriages??? This marriage was forced on Pakistan by George W Bush who after 9/11 said to Pakistan your either with us or with them! Pakistan had to join the US in this phony war on terror! There was no sitting on the fence! So dont go talking about divorce now!! Cause after divorce the women take the money and the assets! America you can't afford to lose Pakistan!
Keti Zilgish
October 23, 2012 11:49 am
You have no idea what's going on in USA!
October 23, 2012 8:08 am
Obama and Romney may be at each others throat on all other issues but against Pakistan, they are united!! All of their comments during the debate somehow blamed Pakistan for everything. They like to blame everything on ISI and Pak army and at the same time sympathize with the Pak civilian govt. Romey said, "Its not time to divorce Pakistan", what he actually meant was, "Its not time to divorce Pakistan yet"!!! Wake up Pakistan establishment, government whoever in command ... start investing and depending on your own people .. build up your nation!!!
October 23, 2012 11:09 am
Pakistan will have to remain in marriage whether it likes or it doesn't. It is simply not a case of choice.
October 23, 2012 9:58 am
Nuisance is, being compelled to read Pakistani papers. Try reading the Urdu papers. They might satisfy your curiosity. But you will need a translator.
October 23, 2012 10:54 am
Its not "War of Terror" but "War Of Errors"
Keti Zilgish
October 23, 2012 12:18 pm
Pakistan is no less stable than what Iraq is or than what Sudan was.
khurram shahzad
October 23, 2012 12:57 pm
By mentioning Pakistan again and again in their presidential debates they are giving negative signals to world about Pakistan. Both, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romeny, are aware of the fact that Pakistan is neither Afghanistan nor Iran. Pakistan has been dealing with nuclear weapons for more than 30 years. Yes, i believe, there was some loopholes during times of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and Pevaiz Musharaf but I strongly believe command and control of Pakistani nuclear arsenal is firmly intact and Un-breach able to the extent even American CIA is not able to break in. Pakistani ISI is regarded as premier intelligence agency of the world. Yes, there are some problems in ISI due to their involvement in domestic politics which is highly conflicting for their image but still ISI is the first and last line of Pakistani defence. Yes, there are some glimpses of social disintegration within due to Baluchistan crises but one must remember these are crises not conflict. These crises have their roots in mismanagement of Pakistani rulers since 1947 but still matter of Baluchistan is constitutional not geographical. Since 9/11 Pakistan have paid hefty price for so-called American “war against terrorism” but time has come for Pakistan for devising such a foreign policy which safeguards national interest only. As Mr. Romney wrongly put it that in case if Pakistan become failed state, Mr. Romeny must think that a nation which has seen mountainous upheavals in last decade in form of earthquakes, floods, terrorism and shortage of energy, is still resilient enough to stand tall and proud in league of nations. This is visible from some water share events which have occurred first time in history of Pakistan, such as, people’s successful movement to restore Chief Justice, completion of five years of democratically elected government first time in history of Pakistan, Independent Judiciary, Independent Election Commission , extremely vibrant and independent media, rise of Imran Khan’s PTI as third biggest Party in Pakistan, survival of middle and lower class even in grim inflation and price hike and hope in eyes of young generation which make Pakistan such a country which has lots of potential for future. Definitely neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Obama will ever mention Pakistan as potent country but always propagate threats about Pakistan. We being Pakistanis are more than 100% sure neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Romney will remain there forever but Pakistan will ever be there because blood of those millions of Sub continent Muslims is, of course, thicker than water. Long Live Pakistan.
October 23, 2012 11:52 am
pakistan doesnt wanted this war at first, the pwople whio want this war get their share in th aid money, what can a normal pakistani do except to think and try to get two meals with tisking hie/her life while doing it
October 23, 2012 9:08 am
Pakistan can only ask for Khulla because Beggars are not choosers
October 23, 2012 10:57 am
If I am not wrong, it was Mr. Bhutto's State Policy to make nuclear weapons even if half of Pakistan has to eat grass.
October 23, 2012 9:34 am
they think Pakistan as a toy, play when u want and keep it side when u want... we are responsible for it.
October 23, 2012 12:55 pm
They should start by being loyal to themselves...they have been very loyal and don't have the clout not to be loyal, even obedient. However, they do find complete submissiveness a tad nauseating.
October 23, 2012 12:54 pm
failed state,
Tariq Nadeem
October 23, 2012 12:50 pm
Just deport all Afghans, we really dont care for Afghanistan, then seal and mine the border.
October 23, 2012 9:01 am
its important for pak to mend its ways because terrorism and extremism is hurting the nation badly but at the same time pak and western world should address the issues which are adding support to militancy.
Cyrus Howell
October 23, 2012 2:23 pm
The PPP is locked in.
October 23, 2012 2:21 pm
Wrong twice: Firstly Pakistan is in South Asia not Southeast Asia (which would be countries to the East of India starting with Burma and thru the Philippines). Secondly Pakistan is not a friend of the US and if it is, it is worse than enemies who have not enjoyed as much success in killing US troops.
October 23, 2012 11:53 am
and they are very right to think this way
Roney Indian
October 23, 2012 8:59 am
Becoz US is not a safe heaven for terrorists and a failed state like Pakistan ! grow up and start looking things the right way..
October 23, 2012 7:50 am
Are you mentioning this sarcastically or otherwise...either way its bad!
October 23, 2012 9:33 am
is pakistan one of the wives of usa ?
Ghalib Khan
October 23, 2012 9:21 am
Standard USA policy use and throw, not matter who is the president,
Ram Krishan Sharma
October 23, 2012 10:37 am
Once again a big conspiracy to destabilise Pakistan . America is jealous of Pakistan's Nuclear Assets.
October 24, 2012 10:52 am
Keep dreaming....Zzzzzz......
October 23, 2012 7:59 pm
You talking about America bro?
October 23, 2012 10:41 pm
Where is China (so called "Good Friend") these days? China is only a friend of Pakistan to pressure India and nothing else!
October 23, 2012 5:28 pm
this is authoritarianism at it's best.true Pakistan cannot escape responsibility of it's conduct in the region over the last few decades but the American approach through this time and region has been mind boggling,bordering on limits of extreme arrogance and almost a laboratory kind of approach towards Pakistan. Pakistan over the years has been destabilized from the inside and from outside and has been systematically portrayed in the international media as a pariah of the world. It's all in the geography,greed and authoritarianism and we the Pakistanis unfortunately have been extremely unlucky with the availability of resources of capable leadership at various levels to respond and thus resulting in doubt,chaos and confusion of a common Pakistani. But one thing in the end ,This Nation Has Resilience .
October 23, 2012 8:21 am
Romney want's war and is foreign policy is based on war.
October 24, 2012 1:03 pm
O yes
October 23, 2012 8:24 am
“No, it’s not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point,”.......... Who cares even half the nation has to eat grass?
syed m. ali
October 24, 2012 1:44 pm
now its time to give a political lesson to USA by making a good ties with russia in every field.
October 23, 2012 11:15 am
Because unlike Pakistan, no one was killing each other; and no one was starving just because the government had to choose between food and bombs.
October 24, 2012 9:02 am
Its time to Devorce USA
October 24, 2012 6:32 am
Ahsan Muhammad
October 23, 2012 10:14 am
As if President builds Foreign Policy. It is already decided whats going to happen, it does not make any difference who wins.
October 23, 2012 6:32 am
Shame on you Pakistani polititions. Take divorce before they divorce you.
Raoul Ciao
October 23, 2012 7:28 am
This is great ! Pakistan is a central point of discussion in the Presidential Debate of the sole superpower nation and the nuclear weapons of Pakistan ensure it is discussed at such an important stage. Kudos to Pakistani security for ensuring Pakistan remains a very important Internationally thought of and looked upon nation.
October 23, 2012 2:05 pm
Pakistan needs a technocratic government for at least 3-5 years and work 24/7 on diplomatic front to bring an end to the illegal drone strikes that kill innocent men, women and children. Mine and seal the border for atleast a year and establish peace through military courts.
October 23, 2012 8:18 am
Romney is another George Bush.
Nazar Sandhu
October 23, 2012 10:11 am
Pakistan does not want a divorce because the US aid money, $5 billion a year, goes mostly into the pockets of our generals and our politicians.
Naseem Ahmad
October 23, 2012 9:12 am
Show some respect if you talk about my country which is "Pakistan" Thank you.
October 23, 2012 10:09 am
Many Pakistanis also want to destabilize Pakistan. If Pakistanis stop thinking that way and work towards stability in their country, I can assure you no other country will want to harm Pakistan or will be able to harm.
October 23, 2012 8:13 am
Congratulations! Now the whole world knows the importance of Pakistan - even the super power has to reckon with Pakistan.
October 23, 2012 10:10 am
abdullah is in a hurry to 'stone age'.
October 23, 2012 6:12 am
nuisance value
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