Pakistan Needs Chemotherapy, Says Obama

From The Economic Times

US President Barack Obama has said that there is growing recognition among Pakistani leaders that the `cancer’ of terrorism is the
primary threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty and not India.

“I think there has been in the past a view on the part of Pakistan that their primary rival, India, was their only concern. I think what you’ve seen over the last several months is a growing recognition that they have a cancer in their midst; that the extremist organisations that have been allowed to congregate and use as a base the frontier areas to then go into Afghanistan, that that now threatens Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Mr Obama said at a joint press conference with Afghan president Hamid Karzai. He further maintained that he was encouraged by what he has seen from the Pakistani government over the last several months.

“But just as it’s going to take some time for Afghanistan’s economy, for example, to fully recover from 30 years of war, it’s going to take some time for Pakistan, even where there is a will, to find a way in order to effectively deal with these extremists in areas that are fairly loosely governed from Islamabad,’’ he maintained.

His remarks follow some tough talking by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and show Washington’s ‘dual policy’ towards Islamabad. “He is telling Pakistan we still have problems with you but you are still important to us,’’ said former Indian envoy to Pakistan G Parthasarathy. “He has gone out of his way to save Pakistan.

Though New Delhi has initiated the dialogue process with Islamabad, there is low expectation of any real outcome on the terror front. Experts believe that the Pakistani Army — which is the central figure — has not shed its anti-India policies and continues to perceive terror as a state policy.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton issues a statement that sounded tough… but the real issue is has the military leadership in Pakistan changed its stand,’’ asked former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh. “I don’t think there is any change in Pakistan’s approach on issue of terrorism.’’ He further noted that this kind of observation from the US on Pakistan has come earlier too.

Mr Obama maintained that the US aim is to build trust and continue working with the Pakistani government. “Our goal is to break down some of the old suspicions and the old bad habits and continue to work with the Pakistani government to see their interest in a stable Afghanistan which is free from foreign meddling — and that Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, the international community, should all be working to reduce the influence of extremists in those regions,’’ he said. He also said that the US is encouraged by Pakistan’s willingness to start asserting more control over some of these areas. “But it’s not going to happen overnight. And they have been taking enormous casualties; the Pakistani military has been going in fairly aggressively. But this will be a ongoing project,’’ he added.

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