Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pakistan press welcome Obama

Pakistan press welcome Obama, query anti-terror policy
AFP, November 6, 2008

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan's English-language press on Thursday applauded Barack Obama's US presidential election victory but amid tensions with its "war on terror" ally, questioned his policy on tackling extremism.

Leading dailies here echoed sentiments around the world that Obama's election opened up possibilities for a new direction in US foreign policy.

But they voiced concern about his support for US missile strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan's tribal border region that have led to strong protests and warnings from Islamabad.

"Here in Pakistan, Mr Obama's earlier take on the issue of militancy was sometimes seen as short-sighted and belligerent," Dawn said in an editorial.

"The US certainly cannot go it alone without the support of Pakistan (that is a reality that America must acknowledge publicly if it is an honest broker)".

The News also noted Obama's opposition to the Iraq war and recognition that mistakes were made by shifting attentions there after the ouster of the hardline ruling Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001.

But it also said his belligerent tone over US missile strikes "had set alarm bells ringing in Islamabad."

"Some believe the anticipation of the Obama presidency may have motivated the stepped up military operation in the northern areas," it said.

"The prospect of a more bullish approach from the new US administration is obviously a disturbing one for the Pakistan leadership."

The new commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, visited Pakistan this week in a sign that the new administration is looking to refocus its attentions on Afghanistan.

The News said that between now and Obama's inauguration in January at the very least, Pakistan's democratically-elected government needed to show it is capable of and committed to dealing with militants on its own.

"A failure in this respect could lead to a more unpleasant confrontation with the man taking over at the White House," it added.

Dawn said Obama's election was a message to Pakistan that it will support "democracy as opposed to autocracy" while The News warned Pakistanis against expecting financial help just "because his middle name is Hussein."

"Obama cannot be expected to aid Pakistan on the basis of perceived religious affiliation, but on the basis of good sense, keeping in view the interests of his own country and a desire to make the world a safer place."

Also See:
South Asia Hails Obama Victory - BBC
Barack Obama’s Pakistan Connections - Adil Najam, All Things Pakistan
Pakistan on Obama: Hope and Trepidation - Juan Cole
Obama may re-hyphenate India and Pakistan - Rediff
'Obama’s Muslim Heritage Will Help’ - Beena Sarwar

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