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Obama’s Pakistan policy to be different
01-19-2009, 08:24 AM
Post: #1
Obama’s Pakistan policy to be different
WASHINGTON: Pakistani ‘friends … had lent me money when I was tight … taken me into their homes when I had no place to stay,’ writes Barack Obama, who on Tuesday takes oath as America’s first non-white president.


In his book, ‘Dreams from My Father,’ Obama speaks high of his Indian and Pakistani friends. His views, however, changed drastically during the election campaign when he declared that if elected he would order raids inside Pakistan with or without Islamabad’s approval.

But now that he is set to occupy the White House in less than 24 hours, it has become obvious that his policies would be different from the election rhetoric.

Recent statements by key members of his team indicate that the Obama administration is not about to launch a military strike on Pakistan. Instead, it would seek to strengthen US engagement with that country.

Also, there will be no economic sanctions despite a strong lobbying by the Indian caucus, which wanted to censure Islamabad for its alleged involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

‘In the Pakistani military there's not one junior officer who doesn't know who Sen. [Larry] Pressler is. In the United States military, there isn't a junior officer who has a clue who Senator Pressler is,’ said Admiral Mike Mullen while talking about the impact on Pakistan of previous US sanctions.

Admiral Mullen, who will continue as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff under Obama, emphasized in this interview to the Newsweek that the United States needs to maintain a close relationship with the Pakistani defence establishment.

And recent statements by members of the Obama team indicate that such views will influence the Obama administration’s policies towards Pakistan.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton told a congressional panel that instead of sanctioning Pakistan, the new administration will support a bipartisan bill that seeks to triple US aid to Islamabad.

And Senator John Kerry, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned that US air raids into Pakistan were counter-productive and were ‘creating some terrorists and losing some ground in the effort to win hearts and minds.’

This change of heart is apparently caused by a closer look at realities in South Asia. Since the election on Nov. 4, the Obama team has received extensive briefings from the members of the outgoing Bush administration on the Afghan-Pakistan situation.

Although the briefings were not made public, statements by senior US military officials reveal that at least the Pentagon advised the Obama team against antagonising Pakistan and also warned it that sending additional troops to Afghanistan is not going to win the war against terror.

‘We cannot just take the tactics, techniques and procedures that worked in Iraq and employ them in Afghanistan,’ said Gen. David Petraeus, commander of US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia when asked if a troop-surge can produce the same results in Afghanistan as it did in Iraq.

And The Washington Post reported on Saturday that senior US officials were not very optimistic about the success of the US military and counter-insurgency drive in Afghanistan.

The officials warned that this ‘costly and belated’ plan was already facing widespread public resistance in Afghanistan, which ‘could delay and possibly undermine Washington’s effort to defeat militants.’

US bombing raids that also kill innocent civilians have further complicated the situation and a protracted US military engagement is likely to create more civilian casualties and public animosity, the officials said.

Such assessments are causing many in Washington to acknowledge that they need Pakistan’s cooperation if they need to win the war in Afghanistan, a point stressed by several lawmakers as well during Senator Clinton’s confirmation hearing.

http://www.dawn.net/wps/wcm/connect/Dawn...tan+policy
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