US voters line up to cast their vote on Election Day. — Photo Reuters
US voters line up to cast their vote on Election Day. — Photo Reuters

There’s little doubt that the world remains enthralled with American politics. No other election on the planet receives a similar amount of attention.

The term Leader of the Free World to describe the president of the United States has seemingly become defunct, but as the only superpower and the world’s largest military, the American Presidency still plays a pivotal role in shaping the global order.

Pakistan’s relationship with the United States has been a turbulent marriage ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the sense that whoever sits in the Oval Office of the White House has a direct and immediate impact on the lives of Pakistanis is definitely real.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was a catalysing force around the world, giving hope to people of a more nuanced and calculated view of the world.

“Many Pakistanis were disillusioned by the tenure of Obama,” says Yousuf Nasim, a Karachi-based lawyer. “For some reason they held the strange view that Obama’s promise of change was directed at them rather than at the US electorate. They were therefore shocked to discover a muscular foreign policy shift against Pakistan under the incumbent US administration.”

But Nasim was unequivocal about who he wants to see in the White House: Obama. The reason, he says, is that “it is clear that under the Obama administration, the US is now deeply committed to educating young Pakistanis. I personally know more than half a dozen recent recipients of the Fulbright Scholarship, administered by the US Department of State.”

There is a general notion in Pakistan that Republican administrations are preferable over Democratic ones for Pakistan. But as Yasser Hamdani, another lawyer says, “there is a complete variance in how the Democrats and the Republicans approach Pakistan.”

Hamdani says that Pakistanis often conflate what’s best for the government and what’s best for the people. But that if we look at the approaches of both parties, “it is the Democrats who are for a more broad-based engagement with Pakistan in terms of cooperation on a strategic level underscoring long term common interests.”

Rasul Bukhsh Rais, however, has an entirely different point of view.

“I don’t think US elections matter to Pakistan,” says Rais, a professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences. “US Elections only matter in the United States.”

He sees both candidates looking to rebuild things at home and when it comes to foreign policy both Obama and Romney are in “remarkable agreement.” He says both candidates are going to focus on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a war which has been a failure for the world’s only superpower, and that “whoever is president is going to have to engage Pakistan in truing to a come up with a workable solution to Afghanistan.”

Huma Yusuf, an investigative journalist and frequent columnist, tends to share the opinion that the US Election has little bearing on US-Pakistan relations, but believes in a broader view of it.

“I do think it's narrow-minded of Pakistanis just to think of the direct relationship between US and Pakistan when thinking about the US election,” she says. “Romney might prove to be more trigger happy against Iran, and might take a slightly more aggressive stance against China. These regional developments could impact Pakistan.”

And while the preference for Republicans over Democrats might have been true before, she says economic realities within the US and changes in regional dynamics in Pakistan and its surrounding regions have altered that notion.

“It was Republicans who worked with Pakistan during the closest era of US-Pak cooperation during the 1980s anti-Soviet 'jihad',” says Yusuf. “But in a seriously cash-strapped America where military cuts are inevitable, this is no longer the case. They cannot continue to throw money at the Pakistan Army in the hope that their 'boys' in Pakistan will keep things under control.”

The sticking point for Pakistanis against Obama, she says, is the issue of drone attacks, which is something Romney will continue, thus changing nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Both Obama or Romney will take a similar approach with Pakistan says Yusuf, “keep the pressure on vis-a-vis militancy, but offer forms of aid and international support to keep it worth Pakistan's while.”

With polling already underway, the question of who will be the most powerful man in the world for the next four years will be answered soon.

In America, after a projected $6 Billion cost, a gruelling 19 month presidential campaign will come to a close.

Meanwhile the world watches.

The writer is a reporter at Dawn.com

For more special coverage on the US Elections including exclusive blogs, features, comments, analysis and multimedia from correspondents around the world, go to: US Elections 2012 In-depth


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Comments (31) Closed




PAKIBOY
Nov 07, 2012 12:21pm
In America there are elections that are fair and free. In Pakistan they are shooting little girls in the head for going to school. Mr Imran Khan holds marchs and rallys to stop drone attacks killing the very terroists that shoot little girls in the head. I think the arguement stops here. Pakistan still has a long long way to go before it even becomes 1% of America. And for the record im from Australia which is better than America :)
Nasir
Nov 07, 2012 05:28am
If anything Pakistani's should learn is how peaceful this voting was. No gunfire, no threats. Person voting what they felt. Can we do this?
Blazer_UK
Nov 07, 2012 04:43pm
tell that to your isi LOL
Blazer_UK
Nov 07, 2012 04:41pm
I just like laughing at all the silliness you guys write about LOL
Salim
Nov 07, 2012 03:06am
We should not have any business commenting on American polls. We have enough of our problems to ponder about and concentrate on solving them.
Shahid Masud (@HotMasud)
Nov 06, 2012 11:47pm
Give me more
Sialkotia
Nov 07, 2012 04:38pm
Indeed ! Instead of always trying to bad mouth, we can learn something to be a better nation. More than 100 million people voted, and some even waited for 5-6 hours. Not a single incident of violence or traffic obstruction. This kind of attributes make a nation a superpower.
iqbal nissoana
Nov 07, 2012 05:49pm
US foreign policy does not chang much.
Sheikh Zeeshan
Nov 07, 2012 05:56am
US Policies will remain the same no matter whoever is elected as president. Consistency in policies and years long planning is what makes them affect and rule the world.
Sikandar
Nov 07, 2012 07:28am
It is ironical that in international polls, only two countries were hoping Romney to win. Pakistan and Israel.
Syed-S
Nov 07, 2012 09:11am
Some of our problems, start and stop with them. We need to be careful.
Marcus Khaleeq
Nov 07, 2012 11:07am
Republicans have always been Pakistan
rational
Nov 07, 2012 12:39pm
then why even bother coming here, there are enough newspapers to read where you are from.
Guest
Nov 07, 2012 12:47pm
Yes i think people do care buddy. In the third and final debate Pakistan was mentioned 25 times. For good reasons or bad ones, people and most certainly the leaders of the United States do care..
Ali
Nov 07, 2012 07:02am
Obama again....it shows the reality of the state of politics in the USA as it currently is, divided. Lets hope the next 4 years of Obama are more compassionate towards Pakistan than the last 4 years, as Pakistan has been making up for the soft-er stance on Iran and the Middle East.
Nasser Ali Khan
Nov 08, 2012 01:11pm
Pakistanis are obssessed about Americans. It reflects their little perception of world affairs and politics and the sharply changing of events with the continuous shift of economic and political power to the East, South America, and Africa. US Elections are largely irrelevant not just to the Pakistanis but to the Americans themselves. The elections and the democratic processes are a sham. It is the big bucks which rule America. Top 1% of richest Americans control 40% of its assets. The sharply increasing poverty has not even been an election issue and neither has there been much talk of US$ 16Trillion national debt equating to over US$ 53,000 that EACH American man, woman and child owes to the rest of the world; and this debt is increasing by a trillion every year. Neither party has talked of reducing the budget deficit. From where I am sitting, I would rather be a Pakistani than an American. In Pakistan there is hope while America's future is very bleak.
Dev
Nov 08, 2012 06:39am
Change your mindset, have some self respect.
Mustafa Razavi
Nov 08, 2012 05:45am
"Obama, to me, represents a more human face of the capitalist and imperialist tendencies" It is not a face it is a mask.
ip
Nov 08, 2012 05:05am
I'm sure Pakistanis do. And for the record, this is a Pakistani newspaper. Maybe you stumbled here by mistake? There is a small box in the corner with a cross in it...
Sunil
Nov 07, 2012 11:44pm
Its freedom of speech, which is not in Pakistan.
Shafiq Khan
Nov 07, 2012 07:21pm
If Pakistan were honest and truthful ,instead of bragging about being PURE, and not hanging round for a handout the world will take note. Beggars anywhere are treated different than friends. Just look at what you do to each other.
EmMoosa
Nov 07, 2012 04:32pm
Be an independent yourself not dependent. Your problems will be solved if you are patriotric and independent. Your different offices from parliament, judiciary, army and establishment all are no go areas or untouchables for each other. First bring change in yourself then talk about America. You have no right to comment on the democracy and system of a country like United States while you are not democratic yourself. Every party either Democrates or Republican will come to you if you are strong and dignified. Nobody respect the beggers with the bowl in their hands. Most shameless are your politicians. Yesterday they were with Musharraf and today they are with present regime. What a charactor. No politican has such an ugly charactor in the western world.
Sialkotia
Nov 07, 2012 04:11pm
@Marcus Khaleeq ............." If Pakistan had good relations with Israel both issues would have been resolved by now." Could you please elaborate ?
Tanvir
Nov 07, 2012 04:08pm
It does not matter which party or who wins the election in the U.S. The U.S. always looks after its own interest and that of its own "PEOPLE's" interest in dealing with Pakistan or any other country, except Israel! The best thing for Pakistan to do is stop worrying about the U.S. election and take care of its own "PEOPLE", especially the desperately poor masses. You don't make a nation by looking up to another country; you make a nation by looking down into your own country. So stop being so much mesmerized by the US election.
Ahmed
Nov 07, 2012 03:47pm
Incidentally both the countries Israel and Pakistan were formed in the name of religion and both are the problem child of the world.
G.A.
Nov 07, 2012 03:12pm
Whoever wins the White House. No one could care less about Pakistan than Pakistan's own president.
G.A.
Nov 07, 2012 02:52pm
Pakistan was mentioned in the Presidential debate wasn't it?
manghirmalani
Nov 07, 2012 11:47am
Do you think any one cares about Pakistani view ????
klipsch2010
Nov 07, 2012 10:58am
Gimme more planes, money, food, guns and again money...the list goes on
Farooq
Nov 07, 2012 06:12am
The US foreign policy was and has been always about the "great game". Support for Pakistan in the 50's through the 80's was about the containment of the Soviet Union, with which India had close ties. Today, it is about the encirclement of Iran and hegemony over the vast copper and gold resources from the vanished great ocean called the Tethys Sea which occupied most of Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and the former Soviet Central Asian republics. If a Republican president had been elected, there would have been greater collusion with India for the forced breakaway of Baluchistan as a puppet state. This is less likely, but not ruled out with a Democratic president.
Haider
Nov 07, 2012 12:13am
Obama, to me, represents a more human face of the capitalist and imperialist tendencies naturally found in 'empires' whereas Romney is the true face and that is scary. Hence I favor Obama! (though nothing is expected to change for Pakistan in the short term whoever wins)