For a few days people must have noticed that I have starting sporting a button on my blog which loudly proclaims ‘I Support Obama‘, and consequentially many friends have questioned my reasoning to opt for the Democratic candidate instead of the sweet talking McCain. Firstly I accept the fact that as a non-American whatever I say or do will not matter on the outcome, but if there are still any undecided voters and are willing to be swayed by my position then so be it, but I feel its important to support the candidate which I feel could be best for Pakistan
The conclusion I have achieved is most definitely debatable, I choose to look beyond mere words and see a possible solution for the mess in Pakistan. For me Obama represents a fresh change in the White House, it is my understanding that they both propose ‘approximately’ the same line of action for Pakistan. Obama wishes to quickly clean up the terrorism threat in Pakistan, while McCain proposes a slow but extensively drawn out plan of action, which I feel actually means a long term American presence in Pakistan. If they are both generally coming with the same mindset then I feel I would carefully put my eggs into Obama’s basket.
My reasoning is based on a couple of articles that I contributed to Al-Jazeera Election coverage. The first was written immediately after the First Presidential debate while the next one just recently after the Vice Presidential face-off. I must admit that I was unable to physically watch the second presidential debate, but the transcripts I have read on Pakistan show the general position is fairly the same
Al-Jazeera English: Global voices: US foreign policy: In recent terms Pakistan has come under an extensive scrutiny and was important enough to come into discussion during the first presidential debate. McCain kicked off by offering a more soft and understandable approach. He suggested taking the people of Pakistan into confidence on the “war on terror” and moving forward hand-in-hand to eradicate the menace of terrorism.
“We’ve got to get the support of the people of Pakistan … he [Obama] said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan,” he said. Obama quickly reacted: “Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. If the United States has al-Qaeda, bin Laden [and] top-level lieutenants in our sights – and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act – then we should take them out.”
McCain is definitely on the right track to talk about confidence building measures with the people of Pakistan, which at the moment is at its lowest in ages, but contrary to what he suggests, Bush administration has repeatedly failed to do exactly that in eight years, for which he must also accept responsibility. Might we suspect these to be glamourous words just to win an election? I hope not, but eight years of uselessness will not salvage a sinking boat.
Committed to change?
Senator Obama on the other hand seems more committed to change, he suggests a strong hand to remove the terrormongers once in for all. It took the Americans a few months to hunt down Saddam Hussein, but it’s been seven years and the mountains in Afghanistan have yet to cough up Osama Bin Ladin and his deputies only to now have them hiding in Pakistan.
If this was not gross mismanagement then I wonder what is. It was good to see Obama lash out at McCain for supporting a dictator in Pakistan, saying “We had a 20th century mindset that said ‘well, you know, he may be a dictator, but he’s our dictator’ and as a consequence, we lost legitimacy in Pakistan.”
McCain responded “I don’t think that Senator Obama understands that there was a failed state in Pakistan when [former president Pervez] Musharraf came to power. Everybody who was around then, and had been there, and knew about it knew that it was a failed state.” This was a very lame response by McCain, as it definitely displayed the failures in the Bush administrations, failure to gauge the problem and the wrong decision to support the wrong individuals.
They continued to fork over billions of dollars without proper accountability and supported ‘their friend’ till he coughed up his last breath and succumbed to democracy.
No clear ‘victor’
I must admit that apart from picking apart a few statements from within the debate, I do not come forth with a clear victor in regards to the issues of Pakistan. Only in an attempt to bring this presidential debate into a wider perspective for the people in Pakistan, one just feels there is a desperate need for change.
Pakistan stands at a fork in the road. If the same old policies are followed, with the same blind-sighted relationship maintained with crooks and dictators running our country, the menacing war on terror will only get worse. Obama represents a fresh change, as per my neutral review of the debate, it is my understanding that if they both support approximately the same line of action for Pakistan, I would carefully put my eggs into Obama’s basket.
He talks with more commitment to the challenges ahead while simultaneously suggesting a “tough guy” approach on Pakistan.
The write up again for Al-Jazeera was written immediately after the Vice Presidential debate which was a shoot out between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin
Al-Jazeera English: Global voices: The women’s vote: The debate between the US vice-presidential nominees Sarah Palin and Joe Biden went without a hitch. Strong punches were thrown by Joe Biden right from the start, many of which landed as an upper cut on to Sarah Palin.
In response she tried some feeble attempts but the years of experience of Joe Biden came threw and many of her punches barely brushed his jaw line. Somehow the abundantly winking hockey mom ploy did not swing across the swinging voters. Biden instead sent a strong message to the voters that he was a far better vice-presidential choice than the hot blonde on the other side.
Sarah lost, but the important part is that she lost gracefully, performing well above the low expectations. If this encounter were to be examined for its impact on McCain’s run for the White House it would have little impact, he will not gain any momentum from Sarah Palin at his side.
But one thing is for sure, McCain would be far better off with someone else as his vice-presidential nominee. Politics aside it was a good to see women taking the front stage in the US presidential race, sadly Hillary Clinton missed the final boat and instead in all bewilderment McCain plucked Sarah Palin out of the blue.
Women leaders in Pakistan are not a new concept as we have had our share of women politicians to have made their presence felt in a largely conservative society. The most famous woman of course is the recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was not a product of classical democratic growth but instead can be said to have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth as daughter of ex-prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
It is since the arrival of Benazir Bhutto that women have continued to feature as strong political forces to reckon with, which has even been doubly ensured since more than 300 seats are specifically reserved for women in the Pakistani parliamentary system to ensure adequate and equal representation. But one still waits to see a women head the top office in the United States.
Pakistan has already had a women in its top slot, so we could easily say “been there, done that” but then again with Sarah Palin as one of the possible choices, let us pass up on the challenge for now. Maybe next time!
Reading my thoughts on why I choose to support Obama for the upcoming Presidential elections in the United States of America, we must have to admit, Pakistan stands at a very critical juncture and possibly the US Presidential elections could make or break the country. For the sake of Pakistan I hope I am right to inch my support Obama, would you agree or disagree