‘Pakistan shouldn’t worry about growing Indo-US ties’

Published: November 7, 2010
No US president has ever visited country during democratic rule PHOTO: AFP

No US president has ever visited country during democratic rule PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: As US President Barack Obama on Saturday began his three-day maiden trip to India, diplomatic observers here believe Pakistan should be watchful but need not worry about burgeoning ties between Washington and New Delhi.

Interestingly, no American president has ever visited Pakistan during democratic rule. There were reports that Islamabad was persuading the White House to ensure that Obama’s itinerary to the region does include Pakistan.

Analysts and former diplomats are of the opinion that Pakistan should not overreact to the development.

“Why are we expecting President Obama to visit Pakistan also? Are we part of India,” remarked former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed. “Our concerns should only be confined to the strategic issues. Otherwise, we should not be bothered about who visits India,” insisted Ahmed.

In the past, Obama’s predecessors visited India and Pakistan in the same trip.

“Those were not visits but just stopovers,” commented another former top diplomat Riaz Khokhar while referring to the visits of former presidents Clinton and Bush to Pakistan.

Others say the Americans have been trying for years to de-hyphenate their relations with Pakistan and India.

“President Obama’s visit to India is part of that strategy,” remarked Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, professor of international relations at the Quaid-e-Azam University.

But he believes the Obama administration cannot ignore Pakistan while improving ties with India. “In the emerging scenario Pakistan has a major role in the region,” said Dr Ishtiaq, who will soon take over Pakistan Chair at the Oxford University.

At the memorial service for the victims of Mumbai attacks, President Obama said the US and India are united against terrorism, but stopped short of naming Pakistan in his speech.

“It was a good speech,” said Riaz Khokhar. He said Obama’s remarks indicated that he was not willing to toe the India line on the Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan.

The attacks led to the suspension of peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

But Pakistan expects President Obama’s visit will pave the way for the resumption of peace process and resolution of the decades-old Kashmir dispute. “We hope the US president’s visit to India would contribute towards promoting peace and stability in South Asia,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit.

However, he cautioned, “In case the US shows total indifference to the issue central to peace in the region, then, we will obviously be concerned.”

Many in Pakistan do not expect President Obama to take up the Kashmir issue publicly, as he will not offend his hosts from whom he is trying to secure $10 billion in export deals.

“Many things go behind the scenes and I am sure President Obama will discuss Kashmir privately,” said Shamshad Ahmed.

However, Riaz Khokhar does not pin great hopes on this. “I don’t think Obama’s visit will bring any dramatic change in the region,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Ali AMEEN
    Nov 7, 2010 - 1:28PM

    The time has come for Pakistan to stop crying for America’s attention and become important and indispensable for the World on grounds other than red herring issues i.e. Afghanistan and war on terror. But this won’t happen until we remain a nation of beggars. Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Nov 7, 2010 - 1:33PM

    Obama’s visit to India was due to unprecedented efforts made by New Delhi after Obama became President of the US.

    US and India are strategic partners in promoting trade and development between the two countries, whereas Pakistan is a strategic partner for US in war against terror.

    While staying at Taj Hotel, US President Obama has sent a clear message to Pakistan the US and India stands shoulder to shoulder in fighting against terrorism. On the other hand, US is providing all necessary support and technical assistance to Pakistan in curbing terrorism.

    A deal of US$ 10 billion will boost India’s economy and thousands of job opportunities for the Indians at home as well as in the US.

    Unfortunately after 9/11, Pakistan despite making best efforts could not 100% eliminate terrorism, and therefore, have left no other choice for US, except to enhance its support to curb extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.

    Had we been able to eliminate extremism and terrorism during the last nine years, President Obama would have also visited Pakistan after visiting India.

    Despite the ongoing separatist movement going in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947, it did not make any impact on Obama’s visit to India. The US perception is that Pakistan has failed in curbing extremism and terrorism within country and more over Pakistan is also involved in cross border terrorism, although Pakistan is a peaceful country and would like to live with its neighbours peacefully. Recommend

  • Syed Rizvi
    Nov 7, 2010 - 2:20PM

    why we as gheratmandh bhikaari worry about these things any way?Recommend

  • Numair
    Nov 7, 2010 - 3:18PM

    Obama is in India just to secure $ 10 billion export deals. He has no interest to discuss Kashmir issue with Indian Government whether in privately or openly because he don’t want to offend his hosts. We should be watchful about US-India nuclear deal and arms deals. US giving much importance to India for his Military deals.Recommend

  • Babar
    Nov 7, 2010 - 3:31PM

    It seems that even after being separate for over 60 years, we continue to act as grumpy conjoined twins, who have not learn to love and respect each other. If India grows Pakistan grows, If Pakistan is safer, India will be safer. Why can’t we just agree to disagree on few of those issues and move on with our conjoined live. Live and love to respect each otherRecommend

  • aceleo
    Nov 7, 2010 - 4:12PM

    Relations with Pakistan is an enforced one visa-vi the terrorism and all the wrong reasons, US-Pakistan relations is there all because of the wrong reasons, hence not a very natural and casual ones, where as with that on India is on issues like economics, jobs, education, science being a progressive ones put India – US relations in the most cordial and comfortable zone. More than to look at it with envy there is a need for introspection, as to why Pakistan in spite of doing all the fight against terror has not been able to command that respect & position in the world that India enjoys today. Surely if Pakistan would have achieved even halve the economic success of its neighboring country things would have been much better, faulty govt policies and above all much emphasis on foreign policy of strategic depth and containment and less emphasis on internal turmoil and social issues have left Pakistan bankrupt in money, intelligentsia, self respect and pride all over the world. Yet its a pity that Kashmir and Afginastan takes precedence over the real issues of education, hunger and poverty in this country. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 7, 2010 - 6:00PM

    Its only natural. India is a growing giant of a country. It was only a matter of time before some of the strongest nations on earth started wooing the country.

    Unfortunately, Pakistan has made this a lose-lose situation by continuing with its animosity towards India and breeding Terror inside its Territory.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 7, 2010 - 6:03PM

    The road to success only lies in how to improve our relationships with all our neighbors. All types of “Nose Pocking” must stop in the interest of all the countries in the region, specially, neighboring countries. It is now time for us all to think what type of Pakistan we want ? Economically strong or a country with whom one is even frightened to shake hands. People who move around with olive leaf are real “Assets” not those who are moving around with guns and swords. For goodness sake, please see where are we all heading. It is 2010 and not 1020.Recommend

  • Yaar
    Nov 7, 2010 - 11:33PM

    Money spent on Defence in India becomes part of GDP as India insists for localization of technology. Where as money spent on Defence in Pakistan is drain on economy and social programs. India has thousands of unfilled jobs in Defence for officers and even for Jawans. India’s policy and so is US policy to keep Pakistan busy in her demostic issues, worldwide Jihad, Kashmir etc. India has been able to handle all kind of agitations be it be peaceful or violent in Kashmir. Pakistan needs to formulate its growth policy in comparison. Fiscally speaking, there is no comparison of Pakistan and India and whole world understands that. Pakistan would like to be hyphnated with India but practically in world over it AFPAK.Once Pakistan built atomic weapons, all issue and time has frozen to status quo. Kashmir is issue for Pakistan not for India as she is capable of dealing with it. Here is my last take on the issue. Both India and Pakistan have earned great strides and names for themselves in IT and built strong schools and have best teachers. But for the world, IT in Pakistan is “Internation Terrorism” and for India ” Information Technology”. This how world distinguishes India and Pakistan. That is how various nation sign their internation treaties with these countries..Terrorism Protection with Pakistan and Trade Promotion with India.Recommend

  • Ravi
    Nov 8, 2010 - 6:47PM

    “And we will continue to insist to Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe-havens within their borders are unacceptable, and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice”

    Obama about PakistanRecommend

  • M H Waziri
    Nov 8, 2010 - 11:42PM

    Obamas visit to India would not bring a sudden dramatic change in South Asis but India may succeed in having a place for the member UN security Council. Recommend

  • Deb Mukharjea
    Nov 10, 2010 - 2:05AM

    Full Disclosure: I am an Indian expat in London, UK.

    I have interacted with Pakistanis from the Lahore and Karachi.
    I find that even in the educated, professional elites,
    Pakistanis suffer from the image that Pakistan is a small country,
    vis.a.vis India. This does not help.

    True, Pakistan is smaller than India. But then so is India compared to
    China, Canada and the USA. Where the Indians score are:

    They are clear about their identity. They are secular and belong to
    South Asia. Plain and simple. Pakistanis, vacillate and oscillate between
    invented and imaginary identities, swinging between a Middle Eastern / Arab
    sensibility and at other times ‘Not from South Asia’ mode.
    The Indians have their hands full with problems at home.
    The last thing, repeat, the last thing they want a fragmented Pakistan.
    That is a big no … even amongst those groups in India that are
    angry with Pakistan’s support to terrorism.
    India has its sight not just on the big table but on the big league.
    And it is determined to make it there. Its leaders know that the young
    population that they have now is the one chance to make it happen.
    And these young people have been raised with one identity, Indian.
    Yes, caste etc. exists … but they are being challenged by the young everywhere.
    India believes the best “ex-port” market is HOME.
    Rather than export goods and grow the Chinese way, which makes
    enemies out of friends, Indians are prudent to use the home
    common Indian Community (much like the European Community) to
    create their own growth trajectory, rather than be at the mercy of an
    external buyers. Instead they say, let the others sell to us, we will
    generate the value at home and keep it. It is like having your cake and eating it.

    India knows that as the economic growth continues, it will translate into
    very real political power. AGAIN, NOT MILITARY POWER. Because,
    Indians are averse to project military power in an offensive way and tend to be
    overwhelmingly in favour of being defensive (Some say, overly defensive.)
    India wants political power, not military power. A large army and defense purchases,
    are all costumes for projecting political power, because the future of economies,
    depends on the political powers. India seeks to be able to project it from the high table,
    into Africa and to South East Asia. With the Middle East, it wants to create a
    cultural beach-head through educational and people to people relations.

    Moral of the story for Pakistan:
    1. Stop thinking you are a ‘small’ country. You are BIG.
    2. Stop thinking yourself as one nation. You are not. There are many ‘nations’, give them all a say. Not just the Punjabi elite. This is Pakistan’s Achilles Heel. Don’t let it be exploited.
    3. Stop taking your ‘geo-strategic’ space for granted and elevate it on a pedestal. Doesn’t help. The real strategic space is in building an economic bridge between India and the Middle East and Central Asia. For that to happen, trust has to be gained (this is why the India Pakistan Iran pipeline never happened.). For trust to happen, ISI and PakArmy sponsorship of terrorism has to end.
    4. India has made most progress because of civil society INSPITE OF A VERY CORRUPT BUREAUCRACY and POLITICOES. Pakistan too will make this progress, but make your NGOs do the heavy lifting.
    5. Changes happen gradually. DON’T BE DESPONDENT. All countries in South Asia, have had a hard time emerging from the morass of history, Pakistan is no exception. It too will emerge. Recommend

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