In a candid conversation on Monday, US president Barack Obama conveyed to Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj why he could not always publicly upbraid Pakistan on the question of terrorism “because it is necessary to engage that country” to stamp out the scourge.
Obama said his government’s constant endeavour was to persuade Pakistan to act “decisively and consistently” to dismantle the mechanism of terrorism on its soil.
On his response to a Mumbai college girl’s query on why the US was not declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, Obama reportedly told Swaraj, “we all know who’s to be blamed but I have to engage them to solve this problem.”
Swaraj’s meeting preceded by a meeting between Vice President Hamid Ansari and Obama and followed by his interaction with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and Karan Singh accompanied Sonia Gandhi during the meeting with Obama.
Obama appreciated some of the concerns Swaraj raised. The BJP had earlier been divided over Obama’s initial silence on Pakistan — with spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s criticism — but its top leader LK Advani gave a thumbs up to Obama after his speech in Parliament, where he mentioned Pakistan’s responsibility of bringing to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack.
“India’s expectations from him have been sufficiently fulfiled from the speech he gave,” Advani said . “People of India were feeling that the US saw Pakistan as an ally, but emphasising India as a partner has largely met the expectations of the Indian people.”
Swaraj also raised a host of issues. She told Obama the US should dispel any notion that China can have any role in resolving any issue in South Asia. Swaraj also took up the Bhopal gas tragedy issue and said the US should take “effective steps to ensure justice to the victims”.