Obama pushes India to talk to Pakistan

Published: November 8, 2010
Email
 US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wave to the media after the US president arrived in New Delhi on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP

US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wave to the media after the US president arrived in New Delhi on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI: 

US President Barack Obama called on India on Sunday to bolster peace efforts with Pakistan that have floundered since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, relations seen as crucial to his troubled efforts to win the war in Afghanistan.

On the second day of his official visit to India, Obama faces a diplomatic tightrope in fostering ties with the growing global power, while at the same time helping Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and promoting wider peace in Afghanistan.

Obama’s first leg of a 10-day Asian tour has been hailed as moving the United States closer to India as Washington tries to revive a weak economy and gather support to pressure China on its currency. But on Sunday, India’s worries about Pakistan dominated.

Peppered by questions from students at a college in India’s financial hub, Obama toed a cautious line between the two nuclear-armed foes, saying both were needed to help stabilise Afghanistan where thousands of US troops battle militants.

“My hope is that over time, trust develops between the two countries, that dialogue begins, perhaps on less controversial issues, building up to more controversial issues,” Obama told students under a hot midday sun.

Obama said the biggest stakeholder in a ‘stable and prosperous’ Pakistan is India. “If Pakistan is unstable, that’s bad for India. If it’s good and prosperous, that’s good, because India is on the move. (You) Don’t want the distraction of security in your region.”

However, the US president said Washington would not mediate in the dialogue between India and Pakistan and it was up to the two neighbours to mend fences. “India and Pakistan can prosper and live side by side. This can happen and this should be the ultimate goal. The US can be a partner but cannot impose this process. India and Pakistan have to arrive at an understanding,” said Obama.

Islamabad wants the Obama administration to play its role for the resolution of decades-old dispute with New Delhi.

Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit was quoted by news agency Press Trust of India as saying the US ought to play an “effective role for an amicable solution of the longstanding issue of Kashmir” given close India-US ties.

President Obama also spoke about India’s role in Afghanistan. “India’s investment in development in Afghanistan is appreciated,” he added. “Pakistan has to be a partner in this process, in fact all countries in the region are going to need to be partners in this process. “The United States welcomes that, we don’t think we can do this alone.”

India has given $1.3 billion in aid to Afghanistan, a policy that unnerves Pakistan which sees its northern neighbour as its own backyard of influence.

Obama said Pakistan was not acting quickly enough to deal with militancy within its borders, a view long expressed by many Indian officials who say Islamabad is hoodwinking Washington by taking aid while also backing militants in Afghanistan.

“There are more Pakistanis who’ve been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan than probably anywhere else,” Obama said.

Later in the afternoon, Obama landed in New Delhi and greeted the waiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with a hug. Later in the evening the two leaders had a one-on-one meeting for about 25 minutes before the private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Singh for the visiting leader and his wife Michelle at his 7, Race Course Road residence.

The two leaders are believed to have taken an overview of the bilateral relations, which have grown substantially over the last few years. Singh and Obama will hold formal wide-ranging talks on Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2010.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (26)

  • Ali
    Nov 7, 2010 - 3:13PM

    Thank you obama for your comments and yes Pakistani goverment is so cool!Recommend

  • Umair Waheed Sheikh, Khayban e Hafiz,IBA Karachi
    Nov 7, 2010 - 3:20PM

    Its a slap on our face that Obama did not come to Pakistan for a small overnight stay.We must fight against militancy and the military should stop favoring some in Afghanistan.Look at how this comes back to haunt us when the militants turn against us.All militants should be rounded up and either sent to Afghanistan or gassed! ISI and their honchos should be rounded up and taken to task for not doing anything about this. We should have Zero tolerance for militancy only then the US will treat us a real partner. We should also arrest all those in the Mumbai incidents and extradite them to India including the dubai kingpin who resides in Clifton.Recommend

  • Ben
    Nov 7, 2010 - 3:36PM

    President Obama has disappointed Indians by refusing to label Pakistan as a country harboring terrorists. To the contrary he expressed his understanding of why Pakistan has been slow in ending militancy. He also disappointed Pakistan by politely refusing to play any role any resolution of Kashmir dispute. It was apprehended before commencement of his visit that President Obama has a very difficult task at hand while he is touring India these days. He has very successfully concluded economic deals with India which will help US economy to grow and create about 50,000 new jobs. And this is no mean achievement. Read more at: link textRecommend

  • Danish
    Nov 7, 2010 - 4:00PM

    Nothing on Kashmir………So Sad!!!Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 7, 2010 - 5:54PM

    In Diplomatic lingo this is a very strong statement against Pakistan. This comes when leaked Pentagon papers reveal that Pakistani ISI is helping the Taliban and even arming it. If NATO had not relied on Pakistan’s help for Afghanistan, Pakistan would have been slapped by sanctions.

    But, in 3 or 5 years this is going to happen when US leaves Afghanistan. Pakistan will be rightly blamed for resurgence of Taliban and aid stopped. Sanctions will be back on Pakistan.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 7, 2010 - 6:17PM

    There are main stream political parties which backs militancy from behind the curtains so there is a dire need to strengthen real democratic forces through ballot box and not by intrigues or other ways …… judicial murder …… winking of jack boots …… Yes, Sir, Obama, you are right it is time for us to “Do More” but kindly use your influence on Kashmir and Water Issue.Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 7, 2010 - 7:25PM

    @ Anoop

    We have been under sanctions in 70s as well as 90s. In 70s we started work on our nuclear program and in 90 we started work on JF-17 (then Super Seven). Both projects are MashAllah complete and operational and causing headache in Indian Establishment (refer your COAS’s statements), So we’ll welcome it.
    Just think, how many of your districts will be free from Naxtallites in next five years and you even won’t be able to blame Pakistan for it (which is your best pass time), and then what you guys will be doing, because they are as ruthless as Taliban, rather more. Dude, you should make your own affairs straight before lecturing us!!!Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Nov 7, 2010 - 8:59PM

    The realization that the strategic assets or the terror-network is actually endangering the very existence of Pakistan. This is actually posing danger to India and other neighbor of Pakistan.

    The entire world looks at Pakistan to act swiftly against these terrorists and the world is willing to help in any way possible. However, because of the past record, these help will come with strings attached.Recommend

  • G.Khan
    Nov 7, 2010 - 9:39PM

    @ Anoop
    Go and deal with Kashmir before desiring any sanctions on Pakistan? is not your state machinery involved in killing Kashmiris? If Not, tell me whose army is that? Believe me, until you as a nation will not dismantle your state terror machinery, forget about lecturing others. You can talk as much you want but you have seen the results. If you carry out type of terrorist activities you are carrying out in Afghanistan right now and you very well did in Soviet invasion time, can you still expect to lecture others on terrorism? Mark my words, nothing will happen until you dismantle your own state terrorism machinery whether it is against Sikhs in the form of demolishing Golden temple, Or against Muslims in the shape of Demolishing Babri Mosque, or it is in the form of demolishing Christian churches i the southern India or fight against Nexelites to grab their natural resources and land through state Terrorist machinery. No one will ever listen to your words against Terrorism when you yourself are the biggest terrorists in the region. It is a pity that you have to wait American president to arrive in India to condemn Pakistan. Recommend

  • Nov 7, 2010 - 10:24PM

    They need to pay us quicker to get quick results ;)Recommend

  • Nov 7, 2010 - 10:24PM

    Overall, I liked what he said in India. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 7, 2010 - 11:06PM

    @Danish,

    Dude, learn some history. USA slapped sanctions, military not economic after 1965 war but at the end of 1971 war these sanctions were negated. USA even sent in its Aircraft Carrier to the Bay Of Bengal to deter the Indians but backed off when they saw a Soviet Union Submarine. So, till the collapse of SU there weren’t any sanctions on Pakistan. By then Pakistan had taken the help of China to develop nuclear weapons. Pakistan did it because US ignored it intentionally. You have to owe your nuclear program to the Chinese and Americans more than anyone else. Besides, nuclear weapons drained most of the precious resources needed for development and hence Pakistan is in the state it is in today. Look at India. Nuclear weapons are for the big boys. If countries like Pakistan attempt to develop it it is at the cost of development. That is precisely what has happened in Pakistan.

    Dude, JF-17 is at best a 3rd generation aircraft. There is NOTHING to be proud of. Again, it was a drain on your resource which has contributed to all the begging that is happening now.

    “Dude, you should make your own affairs straight before lecturing us!!!”

    –> Naxals have been around ever since the 1960s and are in no position to threaten the state. They dont go and blow themselves up for ideological reasons. Their main purpose for defiance is economic reasons not ideological. Go read about them. They get more air time nowadays.

    How many died just yesterday in the Sufi Shrine blasts? Get the picture?

    India is being wooed by all the countries of the world. It is growing at 9% and is set to become the fastest growing nation in 5 years. India is well on its way to achieve its destiny of a great power.

    Pakistan grew at 4.10% this year, 2% short of the bare minimum it needs to grow to create enough jobs to satisfy the people who are entering the job market now. Next year its going to be the same rate, even lower infact. Pakistan is heavily dependent on aid and this will stop in 3 to 5 years when NATO leaves. Who on earth is going to fill those shoes?

    I am saying all this because if you guys fail, Terrorists get at the nuclear weapons or get fissile material then India will be affected.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Nov 8, 2010 - 9:40AM

    “Obama pushes India to talk to Pakistan”

    It is amazing how the Pakistani press finds a headline that is totally incongrous with reality.Obama isn’t pushing India on anything. India can’t be pushed and is a superpower in the making. On the contrary, Obama is in India to woo the Indians to spend some money with American companies.

    As Pakistanis, we need to get a stiff dose of reality first.Recommend

  • Manoj
    Nov 8, 2010 - 2:18PM

    @ Dear Ahmed, You said everything what I wanted to say. Just to add, India’s econmic growth is based on home consumption and not export based like China. We do not need USA market for growth and employement, USA needs our market.

    Our 220 million strong middle class is more than USA population and this middle class will bring exponential growth to Indian Economy by their consumption which will increase production of goods and services and add new population in middle class bracket.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 8, 2010 - 3:40PM

    G.Khan,

    Dude, is it really smart to lecture about Kashmir,1984,etc when,
    a) A Sikh is a PM in India.
    b) Your Army is doing what it is in Swat,Balochistan,etc..

    “It is a pity that you have to wait American president to arrive in India to condemn Pakistan.”

    –> Its a favorite pastime for leaders world over justifiably so. I can count numerous examples.Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 8, 2010 - 6:16PM

    Anoop & Company

    You hypocrites should see your “shining India” while going through this article:-

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/08-11-2010/opinion/14333.htm

    it contains the real face of you which is “hindudtva”Recommend

  • Kamal
    Nov 8, 2010 - 7:31PM

    Mr Danish,you keep showing our so called “real face” but what about India as permanent member of UNSC..As pakistani,enjoy this feeling for today..lolRecommend

  • Danish
    Nov 8, 2010 - 7:58PM

    Hafiz Saeed will keep on delivering lectures in Pakistan!!! Also enjoy them!!!…..ROFLRecommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 8, 2010 - 8:33PM

    @Danish,

    Dude, these things exists in the oldest of democracies. The right wing exists in countries such as USA,UK and there is intolerance too. But, people in general are not extremist. Same in India. The fact that a country of 80% HIndu can choose a Sikh PM for 2 times consecutively speaks volumes about Indian tolerance for other Religions.

    But, can a non-Muslim ever become a PM or a President? They are constitutionally barred from doing so.

    Heck, Muslims cant even practice their Religion or call themselves Muslims in the ‘Land of the pure'(Ahmadis). In India they can proudly proclaim they are Muslims or Christians or Hindus,etc.

    Ahmadis have to suffer this humiliation in Pakistan.

    http://changinguppakistan.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/picture-2.png

    I hope you dont have a passport, if you do you have personally discriminated against an Ahmadi.Recommend

  • G.Khan
    Nov 8, 2010 - 11:12PM

    @ Ashutosh
    “” The realization that the strategic assets or the terror-network is actually endangering the very existence of Pakistan.””…

    Ashoutosh. Define Terrorism for me. What is “THE DEFINITION” of Terrorism ? Do you know it? Enlighten me if you do. Because if you do not, I will tell you. Under that definition we can discover the the real terrorists and where are they?Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 9, 2010 - 12:22PM

    Anoop,

    i know it exists in old democracies, but the state and media doesn’t support such elements, and if they d so then he country is wearing a mask of liberalism while having weired scars of extremism on its face…..and that is what happened to poor Arundhati Roy…..

    you have read the blog so no reference required!!!Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 9, 2010 - 4:24PM

    @Danish,

    You say even though the people are Secular but Media and the State elements are not.

    You are confusing Secularism with Nationalism.

    Show me one law which the state has enacted which is detrimental to ANY community. Show me one line in the Constitution which is bias.

    Media is also very secular. Just because they are strict on Pakistan and what they perceive to be statements from certain individuals who according to them issue anti-India statements doesn’t make them non-secular.

    What IS happening to Arundati Roy? Is she in Jail? Have her movements been restricted?

    What is happening to Arundati Roy is not an example of how intolerant India is but how much space it gives to people who dont share the enthusiasm for the policies of the State.

    If she were in China she would have been locked up or hanged and a Fatwa would be waiting for her in Pakistan.

    The fact that she is in India and the Constitution and the law protects her, she can speak her mind, even though majority dont like it. You gotta love India, dont you.Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    Nov 9, 2010 - 5:40PM

    Funny. The article does not match the headline.
    @Danish
    Its economy that makes the world go round. All the Nexalites and their well wishers (Arundati or who ever) will not be able to stop the Indian economy on its tracks in your lifetime. So keep sulking (it does not cost a cent)Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 9, 2010 - 5:59PM

    @ Tony, Anoop, Manoj and kamal

    Don’t you guys have blogs and newspaper websites of your own country. You guys and your whole nation is so obsessed by Pakistan that you drag us every where and even don’t spare our blogs or websites…..go get a life dude….
    may be you are the cyber goons of “intelligence gathering agency RAW”……….Recommend

  • sandy
    Nov 10, 2010 - 10:20AM

    @Danish.. no point telling you how many newspaper or blogs we have.

    Our literacy and internet penetration rates are very high right now and we savvy Indians love discussing stuff.

    Its just spilling a little across border. You guys will get used to it over time.Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    Nov 10, 2010 - 1:15PM

    @Danish,
    why don’t you command the editors of ET not to have an online addition. If they have one, and are willing to accept comments, what is your problem? If you still don’t like others writing, you have two nay three choices
    1. Buy the newspaper and dictate terms, change policy
    2. Don’t visit the website
    3. Keep on sulking
    Good day and Good luckRecommend

More in World