For Pakistan, Both
Obama and Romney Promise Further Suspicion and Extremism (The Nation, Pakistan)
Obama's explanation of why he failed to seek permission from Pakistan for the raid
on Abbottabad - that if he had done so, Osama bin Laden would have escaped -
was nothing but a scare tactic to deflect Romney's apt suggestion that Pakistan
should have been consulted. It was unworthy of President Obama to reinforce the
impression that Pakistan cannot be trusted. ... And with Romney backing extreme
positions even before being elected, it is even more unlikely he will bring any
The Debates are over: Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands at the end of the third and final debate, this one on foreign policy. Pakistan was a big topic, and stood out as an area that both candidates largely agree on.
Contrary to expectation, the Middle East displaced Pakistan
as the most prominent focus in the third and last U.S. presidential debate -
this one on foreign policy. Not that the subject of Pakistan was forgotten. Incumbent
President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney both committed to continuing
drone attacks on Pakistan's tribal areas, and neither gave any indication the U.S.
policy toward Pakistan would change, whoever the victor is.
As is the tradition, a single-minded pursuit of what is
understood as American interests have trumped the fact that the policy is a source
of plunging popularity for the U.S. in the region. Neither candidate offered
any clarity or vision for post 2014 Afghanistan, but both agreed on a
wishy-washy notion of having done enough for the conflict not to count as a
loss - and after 11 years of war.
President Obama's explanation of why he failed to seek permission
from Pakistan for the raid on Abbottabad - that if he had done so, Osama bin
Laden would have escaped - was nothing but a scare tactic to deflect Governor
Romney's apt suggestion that Pakistan should have been consulted.
It was unworthy of President Obama to reinforce the
impression that Pakistan cannot be trusted. There is also no proof the president
can offer to show that had Pakistan been consulted and made part of the
operation, bin Laden would have avoided his demise. But Governor Romney's comment
that Pakistan should be kept close mustn't be viewed with much hope. Keep in
mind that he is an even stronger supporter of Israel than Obama, and pressed the
president to commit America to join in any attack on Iran.
The United States is a superpower. Indeed, it is the world's
sole superpower. So its future foreign policy is of interest, sometimes
overpowering interest, to other nations. But domestic economic considerations
and not foreign policy will decide the U.S. election. The debate represents
only a promise from the candidates of what their foreign policy would be if he
succeeds. But it should be remembered that as a candidate, President Obama said
that the Kashmir issue should be resolved, and then he did nothing about it.
Similarly, in his first year in office, after being elected on a promise to end
the war on terror and being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the war is not over
and he is preparing to invade yet another Muslim country in support of Israel-Iran.
And with Romney backing extreme positions even before being elected, it is even
more unlikely he will bring any justice or balance to U.S. foreign policy.
The attitudes expressed during the debate should cause a
rethink among the permanent and elected officials of Pakistan's government: how
can a more sympathetic attitude toward Pakistan be fostered.