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Obama & Pakistan

Published Nov 08, 2012 12:10am


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AS a country that has been the focus of world attention for reasons more than one, Pakistan will watch with hope and concern how the foreign policy of President Barack Obama during his second term will affect it in the years to come. Will the new Obama administration reassess some controversial aspects of its foreign policy, like the unceasing drone attacks in the northwest, or will the new mandate serve to reinforce its belief in the righteousness of its policies and stay the course? Since 2008, the US-Pakistan relationship has gone through unprecedented turmoil. Three events last year aggravated tensions between the two — the Raymond Davis affair, the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers at Salala in a US-led Nato  attack. In anger, Pakistan boycotted the Bonn conference and suspended the Nato supply line, insisting on an apology. The damage-control exercise took nearly a year to succeed; but it still remains to be seen to what extent the frosty rapprochement can remove the mistrust. The task before the two governments now is to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperate to achieve common objectives.

The obvious goal is to give peace and stability to Afghanistan during and after the Nato forces’ withdrawal by the end of 2014. There are some harsh realities: the Afghan Taliban have not been defeated; the peace talks stand frozen, or if at all there has been progress, America has kept its cards close to its chest; and the beleaguered Karzai regime seems to be in no position to maintain security after 2014. It is here — and not because of the 100 nuclear warheads Mitt Romney spoke of — that America needs Pakistan. Given the bonds of history, culture, economy and geography that unite Pakistan and Afghanistan, the transition to a long-lasting peace west of the Durand Line would not be possible without engaging Islamabad and addressing its legitimate concerns. More important, it is in Washington’s interest to de-velop a long-term relationship with Islamabad instead of ‘returning’ to Pakistan only when a crisis beckons.

As for its policy towards the Muslim heartland, President Obama should re-read his Cairo speech and judge whether America under him has achieved any of its goals. Iran continues to be under harsh American sanctions, and Israel builds settlements in utter disregard of President Obama’s warnings, toothless as they have been. His commitment to the two-state solution has become academic, because Israel has blocked the peace process, and Washington is at the Likud government’s beck and call to deny state status to Palestine at the UN.

Comments (6) Closed

P. Joseph Raju Nov 08, 2012 02:09pm
There is nothing more to expect from Obama this time also. I think his second term will be more geared towards economy and immigration, the only way he can leave any legacy for the future. All these years America controlled the foreign policy in other countries, much for her benefit and convenience. Now the dreadful world events will control the American foreign policy.
Amir Dewani Nov 08, 2012 01:54pm
There are certain points to pause, ponder and print on the back of your mind to fully understand the crux of election process with particular reference to Mr. Obama's triumph here in the USA. First listen to what I saw on TV screen, and heard about the pivotal position of a voter when he uttered the following lines in the victory speech late at night of the 6th November, 2012: '...But that does not mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It is about what can be done by us together with hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That is the principle we were founded on". Second: The CNN video at justwatchedvideo-November 7, 2012 with the following punch lines:- " Two men, 2 speeches unifying message. At the end of a long and divisive political season, the speeches of the victor and vanquished share similar themes". The essence of these two quotes need to be brought home to all concerned who talk about democracy, life, liberty, freedoms and value of the voter. Till the time your media TV shows and the anchors continues to behave like lap-dogs instead of their essential role as the watch-dogs, the woes might continue. Presently they are busy breaking news of killings, looting and arson, but little about creating awareness of the rural and urban masses. Let them learn to work for the common good alongside the others.
Cautious Nov 08, 2012 04:18pm
The American policy has been laid out but few in Pakistan want to view it objectively. The USA has determined that it cannot rely on Pakistan for anything meaningful and has planned accordingly. The USA no longer considers a stable/prosperous Afghanistan a priority - instead it just wants to insure that militants within the region cannot present a credible threat the the American homeland. As such - the USA will leave a small, cost effective, and lethal footprint in Afghanistan which will make life miserable for militants within Afghanistan and Pakistan. The militants will not be able to control Kabul and Kabul will not have control over much of Afghanistan - not much different than today. The govt's in both Pakistan and Afghanistan will remain weak under this policy but likely not collapse - not a great solution but one that is probably practicable given the circumstances.
Saeed Nov 08, 2012 01:01pm
We should not expect any change in direction of US foreign policy. With minor adjustments here and there and despite all the campaign bluster, it is a non partisan issue. Obama turned out to be more hawkish than that neo con cabal George Bush. There is no reason to believe that he will behave differently in his second term.
M. Asghar Nov 08, 2012 10:51am
First, the conflict of Afghanistan caused by the ravaging occupation by the foreign forces can only be healed with the help of its neighbours. Second, Pakistan has to look after its own self-intersts which are and will remain incompatible with those of the USA in the region. and here the election of Barack Obama will make no difference.
Akhtar Nov 08, 2012 07:37pm
Nothing will change on the American side. They will continue lying - especially the lie of killing Bin Laden. He died years ago.