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India fixation of Pakistan is misguided: US

Posted by :) on May 1, 2009


Source :  Chidanand Rajghatta |TNN

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the stubborn onslaught by the Taliban inside Pakistan had forced a rethink within that country’s military establishment that it’s the Islamist militias — not India — who pose a mortal threat to Pakistan.
“On the military side, you’re starting to see some recognition just in the last few days that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally,’’ Obama said. Pakistan has moved about 6,000 troops from its border with India.

Pak government very fragile, says Obama Washington Can Make Sure That Islamabad’s Nukes Are Secure, Contingency Plan Is In Place
Washington: At a White House press conference to mark his first 100 days in office, President Barack Obama said he was concerned Zardari’s government was not in a position to cater to the basic needs of the citizenry. “The civilian government there right now is very fragile and don’t seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services: schools, healthcare, rule of law, a judicial system that works for the majority of the people.’’
It was a surprisingly blunt vote of no-confidence in a civilian government ahead of Zardari’s visit. There has been speculation in some quarters that Washington is not averse to another military takeover if the civilian government does not assert itself over the extremists. “… You’re starting to see the Pakistani military take much more seriously the armed threat from militant extremists,’’ he said, referring to this week’s offensive on the Taliban terrorists who had captured areas in Buner, about 100 km from Islamabad, and Dir.

“We want to continue to encourage Pakistan to move in that direction, and we will provide them all the cooperation that we can,’’ he added. The President seemed to be referring to the reported movement of some 6,000 Pakistani troops from the border with India to its western areas to take on
the Taliban, even as he made the case for a large civilian and military aid package for Pakistan that Congress is going to take up in the next few days, ahead of the visit to Washington next weekend by President Asif Ali Zardari.
Obama also said Washington “can make sure
that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure’’. He expressed confidence about US control over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, perhaps through military-to-military cooperation, in the face of extremist advances in the country. In the process, he also hinted that Washington had contingency plans to handle the situation if it went out of Islamabad’s hands.
Asked if he could reassure the American people that, if necessary, US could secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and keep it from getting into the Taliban’s hands, Obama replied: “I’m confident that we can make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure, primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.’’ The carefully calibrated reply referring to primary security appeared to suggest the US has secondary back-up plans in the event of any exigencies, something the intelligence analysts’ community has long considered inevitable.
When the reporter followed up to seek
a more precise answer, asking if in the worst case scenario, the US military could secure the nuclear weapons, Obama responded crisply: “I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals of that sort. I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands. Okay?’’ There is strong pressure on Pakistan from Washington to deploy regular troops rather than its constabulary or para-military in the battles against the Taliban, but Islamabad is said to be desisting, holding out for greater military aid and equipment to carry out the task.
There is considerable tension between the two sides on this issue, and a perceptible lack of trust in Washington about Pakistan’s claims that it is routing the extremists and re-established control in the territories it has lost to them. The suggestion here is that Pakistan is shadow boxing to ensure the US aid package gets through and its military was yet to get rid of its India fixation.
At a separate briefing earlier in the day, a state department spokesman said the US was “happy to see Pakistan taking these types of steps. They need to continue to confront these violent extremists.’’
Pakistan’s histrionics vis-a-vis India was also the subject of a scathing review by vice-president Joe Biden at a separate engagement in Houston where he was quoted as saying Islamabad needs a “cultural change’’ to view that India not as its enemy. On one issue, however, Obama was unrelenting: the Predator strikes. “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests, in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state,’’ he said.

PRESS CONFERENCE
In an extraordinary censure of the Pakistani government, the US President on Thursday said the embattled country was not in a position to deliver even basic services to its people
Obama said he is committed to fulfill his election promise of immigration reform
More Americans will lose jobs and face tough times before the recession is out, Obama said
Obama has signalled he is operating under the assumption that Osama bin Laden is still alive, despite remarks by Pakistan’s President saying intelligence service believes the al-Qaeda leader has died

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