The reaction of Obama’s Victory in Pakistan

Guest blog by Muhammad Saad

Barack Obama’s recent election as the next US president has been met with widespread acclaim all over the world. However, in Pakistan, which has been a frontline state in the ‘War on Terror’ since September 11, 2001, Obama’s victory has met with either cautiously optimistic or sceptic reactions. His recent statements about Pakistan have been hardly encouraging for the Pakistani people.

Despite facing considerable opposition at home, Pervez Musharraf’s government allowed the US armed forces to use Pakistan as a base for staging attacks against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. But since the past one year, the War on Terror’s scope has expanded to the tribal areas of Pakistan. Many Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be taking refuge over there, forcing the Pakistani military to take action against these forces. The new democratic government has also resolved to root out the Taliban from these areas. However, the recent American and NATO air strikes in the tribal regions, which have killed many innocent people along with some Taliban forces, have caused massive outrage in the country and soured relations between the two erstwhile allies.

Obama’s declaration to attack Pakistan if he finds out about the presence of high-value terrorists over there, not necessarily with the approval of the Pakistan government, has led to widespread resentment in the country. He further went on to say that Pakistan is the new epicentre of terrorism and has openly declared his intention of shifting the focus of American anti-terrorism efforts from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. These statements, according to some critics, were made by Obama because he was being accused of being too ‘soft’ on foreign policy and national security by his rivals and some media outlets, and therefore Obama came out hard on Pakistan with the attempt to gain voters. Pakistanis would hope that these statements were only said to gain votes. With the rapid increase in suicide bombings and the severe financial crisis which has gripped Pakistan, the continuation of US air strikes would be the last thing the country needs at the moment. This would certainly harm the nascent democratic government’s popularity, as many Pakistanis see these strikes as a violation of their country’s sovereignty, and are unhappy with their government’s apparent subservience to American influence.

However, with Joe Biden being Vice President, therefore a key figure in Obama’s administration, there is a ray of hope for Pakistan. Biden has recently been awarded the Hilal-e-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan) award by the Pakistani government, in recognition of his vocal support for the restoration of democracy in the country, and for authoring a bill providing $1.5 billion in non-military aid. He is also known to favour diplomatic solutions to all of Pakistan’s problems. Pakistanis would be hoping that he plays a key role in shaping the South Asian policies for the Obama administration.

In the meantime, as the rest of the world rejoices on Obama’s victory, Pakistan looks on nervously.



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10 responses to “The reaction of Obama’s Victory in Pakistan”

  1. Hasan Abbas Avatar
    Hasan Abbas

    It is nonsense to expect any ray of hope from any American.Be quite sure they are working with Indians and traitors within us to ‘de-fang’ Pakistan once and for all.

    Of course the history and the ethnic makeup of the entire region from Tashkent to Iran is such that our enemies and the the Meer Jafars will fail.This war can go on for a thousand years if need be -till we triumph.

  2. farrah k raja Avatar
    farrah k raja

    Being Pakistani it is difficult to expect any good coming from US ,not Buraq Obama but from US policy makers which are highly influenced by Indian colouminists who every second day write in NEW YORK times convincing US think tanks what a fundamentalist threat Pakistan is for modern and secular India and democratic US and the rest.
    OBAMA himself;somehow this is my personal openion and personal openions have no room in politics but I see in him a “PEACE MAKER”.
    As I said earlier we cannot leave everything to OBAMA or USA to stop attacks.We need to do our home work quick,neat and tidy and fast.OBAMA have no luxury to spend endlessly on a millitary expedition in a foreign land but than we should remove the causes of concern.
    Let us not concentrate on USA ,let us concentrate on Pakistan itself.We need to answer these questions genuinely,how terrorism is affecting us?We need to separate religion fron politics.
    We have to judge leaders on their intentions and long term policies.We have to stand together as one .When I say together as one it means government ,beaureaucrats,television,newspaper,ordinary citizens and people like you and me,all of us should have collective concious response to this war,internal and external.
    This is the real test of Pakistan Nation.It is not China,it is not Saudi Arabia it is not USA ,these are outside factors,QUESTION IS :
    that is what is going to save us.

  3. Spoken English Teacher Avatar

    US policies can’t change. There may not be a major shift. But Pakistan should behave as a sovereign nation as it has a population of nearly 200 million and is a big country.

    The Pakistani leaders should become assertive, progressive and work for development of masses rather than their own service.

  4. Kheshgi Avatar

    Interesting days ahead of us due to more expected focus on Afghanistan in Obama administration. Recent comments by Obama related to Kashmir provided an interesting twist and not too sure if that will translate into anything tangible.

    How US foreign policy will change related to our 4 neighbors – India, China, Afghanistan, and Iran is going to have a direct impact on Pakistan, let’s hope and pray that it a positive one.

  5. nota Avatar

    Like I stated in the previous Obama thread, I am convinced Obama will be worst for Pakistan than even Bush. Leaving those arguments aside, let me just point out a few things that shatter the “Change” illussion:
    How Many Clinton Retreads Does It Take to Screw Up an Obama Administration?
    This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House
    Robert Gates: As Bad as Rumsfeld? (Gates is expected to keep his job)
    WARNING: Obama’s economic gang – Fasten your belt
    Is Obama Killing his Honeymoon?

    Obama & Pakistan (5 minute video)

    As for hopes in Biden, let me point you to this WeAreChange video (8 Minutes):

    Vice President Joe Biden promises WeAreChange an upcoming crisis

    To me this video is REALLY SCARY in light of the campaign going on in America that any attack happening on America will have it’s base in Pakistan. So if Biden is “promising” a “GENERATED crisis” very soon (as soon as January) you know WHO will be blamed….

  6. nota Avatar

    Just wanted to add the above the statements of Gates & Co. over the last year and a news article from today:
    July 2007: NIE: Al-Qaida Planning U.S. Attack
    According to the latest National Intelligence Estimate [PDF], al-Qaida presents a “persistent and evolving” threat to the United States…

    Sept 2008: Gates: Terror Groups in Pakistan Greatest Threat to Afghanistan, US
    …Gates told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the United States faces committed enemies in the tribal areas of Pakistan and until those safe havens are removed, insecurity and violence will persist. “If you asked me today, after the successes that we have had against al-Qaida in Iraq where the greatest threat to the homeland lies, I would tell you it is in western Pakistan,” he said….

    ‘US military can meet Obama’s demands’
    WASHINGTON: The top US military officer said the Defence Department is developing plans to get American troops quickly out of Iraq and into Afghanistan to battle a more confident and successful Taliban….

  7. nota Avatar

    Maybe the question could be “Is Hillary good for us?”

    Hillary plays hardball
    The first sign of friction in the Obama camp as Mrs Clinton demands – and gets – a purge of her critics before accepting Secretary of State role

    By Leonard Doyle in Washington
    Sunday, 23 November 2008
    Before Hillary Clinton has been formally offered the job as Secretary of State, a purge of Barack Obama’s top foreign policy team has begun.

    The advisers who helped trash the former First Lady’s foreign policy credentials on the campaign trail are being brutally shunted aside, as the price of her accepting the job of being the public face of America to the world. In negotiations with Mr Obama this week before agreeing to take the job, she demanded and received assurances that she alone should appoint staff to the State Department. She also got assurances that she will have direct access to the President and will not have to go through his foreign policy advisers on the National Security Council, which is where many of her critics in the Obama team are expected to end up….

  8. farrah k raja Avatar
    farrah k raja

    Reported today 25/11/08
    The ultimate test of the mission in Afghanistan is the extent to which there is tangible change in the quality of life for ordinary Afghans.
    That is how the military mission is now defined. No-one talks about a victory over the Taleban.
    Indeed, the Taleban were never the only enemy. Afghanistan’s fractured and violent history means there are any number of people with the power to take up arms.

    It is time to dismantle the insurgency by opening up a dialogue

    Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles
    British ambassador

    In depth: Afghanistan’s future

    The old warlords who reduced parts of this country to rubble in the 1990s, the al-Qaeda networks with sanctuary in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and criminal elements comprise an explosive mix of malcontents confronting Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul.
    Given that backdrop, it is not altogether surprising that many more diplomats now accept the possibility of talking to the Taleban – though there are always plenty of caveats and conditions.
    “It is time to signal to those prepared to accept the Afghan constitution, lay down their weapons and who are not linked to al-Qaeda that there’s a place for them in an Afghan political settlement,” says British ambassador Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.
    “It is time to dismantle the insurgency by opening up a dialogue.”
    So that is the prospect. Seven years after the defeat of the Taleban was being trumpeted as a victory over evil, they may once again be a part of the political landscape.
    That will send shivers down the spines of all those who suffered at

  9. Blueray Avatar

    FOX News Spells Out U.S. Strategy For Spotting Terrorist In Pakistan!

  10. nota Avatar

    Re: Robert Gates: As Bad as Rumsfeld? (Gates is expected to keep his job)

    Well, it is now confirmed:
    Robert Gates to stay on as Defence Secretary in Obama administration

    And here is what it means:
    Gates Backs Buildup of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
    US could OK Afghan “surge” before Obama takes office