Terrorizing World – "Enough is enough"

Time to ACT tough . Now !

Young India trips Obama on Pakistan

Posted by :) on November 8, 2010


Source : Sunaina Kumar Mumbai,

He came, he spoke, and he was stumped by a 19-year-old who took on the most powerful man in the world with a question he may perhaps have dreaded the most during his three-day visit to India.

Second year management student Afsheen Irani asked US President Barack Obama at Mumbai’s iconic St Xavier’s College on Sunday: “Why is Pakistan such an important ally of the United States? Why hasn’t America called it a terrorist state?” There was a collective gasp in the quadrangle of Mumbai’s iconic St Xavier’s College where Obama was addressing a town hall meeting of students from various colleges in Mumbai.

Later, another college student Romit Mehta asked him about the Afghanistan problem thus weaving in the President into answering about the complex Af-Pak policy of the US. It was evident that young India had risen to challenge the most powerful man in the world over issues that he is most vulnerable on. And that too, at a town hall meeting environment in which the US President is supposed to be the most comfortable.

Obama acknowledged that he had expected the Pakistan question, but his answer skirted the issue with such eloquence that he might as well have been unprepared for an “expected” question.

In the end, Irani said she never got the reply she was waiting for. “I was looking for an answer and I did not get it,” the student from Mumbai’s H.R. College of Commerce and Economics said. “I was not satisfied with what he said. He was very diplomatic.” Indeed, Obama’s reply was noncommittal, and in the case of his description of Pakistan’s size as a country, wrong. “Pakistan is an enormous country with an enormous potential,” he said, “but it also has extremist elements within it just like any other country.”

He said the US and the world, and indeed Pakistan, understand the extremist threat and “there is a growing recognition within the Pakistani establishment of the problems that the country faces”. Obama said: “The country that has the biggest stake in Pakistan’s success is India, and if Pakistan is unstable, it is bad for India. India is on the move and does not want the distraction of instability in Pakistan.” He added: “There are going to be some elements in Pakistan that are affiliated with the Taliban, the al-Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba. These are the organisations, these extremists, they are irreconcilable. They will be there and there will need to be a military response to those who would perpetrate the kind of violence we saw here in Mumbai in a significant, ongoing way, the kind we saw in 9/11 in New York City.” Clearly, Obama was making a distinction between a “terrorist country” and a country with terrorists within it.

He also stated what was made amply clear in the recent book Obama’s Wars that his administration considers the terror infrastructure within Pakistan “as a cancer”. He said: “The progress made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism was not quick as we would like, but we are working with Islamabad to eradicate extremism.”

Admittedly, Obama spoke long on the Pakistan issue, but never once called it a terrorist state nor could specifically reply to Irani’s question about why the US never declared it as one. By the end of the answer, Obama perhaps knew that his answer had not hit the right chords. So, as a postscript to his longwinded-yet-goingnowhere reply, he said in a clear reference to the vexed Kashmir issue: “The United States cannot impose trust and dialogue between the two countries, and India and Pakistan have to arrive at it themselves.”

Though Obama never gave the answer Irani – or whole of India – wanted, she did become an instant superstar at the college quadrangle. In between several rounds of congratulations from friends and other invitees at the gathering, Irani said she never intended to ask Obama about Pakistan.

“I had intended to ask him about the education policy, something that impacts us directly. So many of us are interested in going for higher studies to the US. With our industrialists like Ratan Tata giving such big grants to American universities, I wanted to ask him how the US would reciprocate. But, at the last moment I decided to quiz him on Pakistan.”

Irani’s ally on the complex Afghanistan-Pakistan issue was 20-year-old Romit Mehta who asked the President about a NATO and US troop withdrawal timeline for Afghanistan. Obama said the US would have to follow the Iraq model in Afghanistan where there would be a drop in the number of troops stationed there but a complete withdrawal was fraught with danger.

In response to a question on core human values in dayto-day life, Obama said while spirituality was important, one could not preach to an empty stomach. His opening speech weaved some of the magic that he so famous for, as he started out by wishing everybody “namaste” and helped break the ice and to put the students at ease.

 

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