Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Pakistan press concern over Obama speech

Pakistan newspapers

Pakistan's media has reacted strongly to US President Barack Obama's new Afghan strategy.

Many newspapers are warning their audiences of approaching disaster.

Here is a selection of editorial comments from English and Urdu language newspapers.


President Karzai has been told to clean up his act (again) and Pakistan has had the stick waved at it (again) by being told that "safe havens" for terrorists will not be tolerated. The totally unnecessary reference to Pakistani nukes and its control was in bad taste and could have been avoided. A sketchy 272 words were devoted to the process of nation-building and reconstruction. It is the failure to give equal weight to the military and civilian vision that has bedevilled the engagement of America and the Nato countries in Afghanistan from the outset. It is but certain that Washington and Obama will have to revisit this strategy a few months down the line.


Janus-like and potentially creating more uncertainty in an already difficult region is how we would describe US President Obama's speech. As strategies go, the one laid out by Mr Obama is not especially ambitious, at least in theory... But experience suggests that the war zone in Afghanistan does not lend itself to a "civilian surge" in quick order. So even if there are military successes thanks to the additional troops that are to be injected into Afghanistan, it is not clear whether success on the civilian side is possible within the time frame that Mr Obama has set.

On the Pakistan front, though, Mr Obama sent a more encouraging signal. Appreciating the Pakistani public's opposition to militancy and the security forces' operations in Swat and South Waziristan, the US president pledged: "America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent." A welcome change from the "do more" line, Mr Obama's words on Pakistan suggested an understanding of common interests rather than a focus on the differences.


US President Barack Obama's much-awaited announcement has evoked alarm and disappointment in equal measure. As though the US president's "cut and run" strategy is not alarming enough, his Nato allies are even less willing to come forward with additional troops, some even [to maintain] a continuing presence. The West as a whole then, led by the US, seems inclined once again to turn its face away from benighted Afghanistan. The Pakistani military establishment, which has been working towards some such outcome since 9/11 by attacking al-Qaeda and saving the Afghan Taliban for a rainy day (one has just arrived, courtesy of Obama), must be laughing all the way to the bank, followed closely by the Afghan Taliban. The implications of such a scenario are scary for the region, the world and most of all for Pakistan. The antediluvian regime of the extremists would once again be foisted by force of arms and with the backing of the Pakistani military establishment on the long-suffering Afghan people. Even more worryingly, the restored Taliban rulers in Kabul may find the temptation irresistible to fish in the troubled waters Pakistan finds itself in by backing the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.


Instead of a grandiose expectation of military victory and a new Afghan nation state construct, the US is now clearly seeking a respectable exit within 18 months. Clearly this involves pressuring all sides to come to the discussion table so that a situation can be created which allows this face-saving exit to the US. That is why there is talk of whittling away Taliban support by providing jobs and incentives for the local people. For Pakistan the message was clear: more destabilisation as militants escaping the US forces in areas bordering Pakistan infiltrate. The problem has been further aggravated because of US/Nato refusal to adopt any of the defensive strategies to stem the infiltration across the porous Pakistan-Afghan international border.


We believe the new Afghan policy has not only disappointed a major section of the US population, but also strengthened the perception that Obama has taken an unwise decision of continuing the strategic status quo and process of destruction in the explosive scenario on Pakistan-Afghan border instead of bringing any change... We believe the 170 million people of Pakistan would not sit silent over not taking Pakistan into confidence over the policy.


We believe the terrorists escaping to Pakistan from Afghanistan after the arrival of 30,000 more troops would increase the work and expenses of the Pakistan army. Therefore, we should thoroughly analyse the overt and covert message given to us in the new US policy and work out a new policy and fully inform Washington about our standpoint.


We believe we shall weigh the nefarious designs of the Obama administration in the new Afghan policy and immediately stop our role as the frontline state. Instead of presenting our shoulder to the repulsing US troops in Afghanistan, we shall own the policy of expelling them. Withdrawal of the US and allied armies from Afghanistan is in our interests. We shall compel USA on withdrawal and remain fully prepared for our defence. This is our need and the need of the hour.


We believe the increase in US troops in Afghanistan would have no effect on the Taliban fighters, as they (Taliban) have already announced that with this their targets would increase. Barack Obama has changed his target. The policy he has announced seems like a Pakistan policy instead of an Afghan policy.

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