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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

World

Obama's Osama remark helps Pak: experts
Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times
Islamabad, October 23, 2012
First Published: 23:51 IST(23/10/2012)
Last Updated: 23:52 IST(23/10/2012)

While the Pakistan government has not responded to statements made in the US presidential debates, there has been a mixed reaction within other circles in Pakistan.

Political commentator Mujibur Rehman Shami says that while on the one hand it is sad that both candidates have endorsed drone attacks, "what I find encouraging is that Mitt Romney said that he would not let Pakistan fail".

However, this view was challenged by political analyst Aisha Siddiqa who said that the US debate was worrying. "Both American presidential candidates do not seem ready to engage Pakistan. They simply want to dictate terms." Siddiqa said that President Obama's contention that Pakistan would not have given permission for an operation against Osama "actually helps Pakistan more than it harms it".

The same view is taken in Pakistan's military circles. Here the Romney statement of keeping on the right side of a nuclear power has been welcome by the military high command. It has also welcomed the statement that had Pakistan been asked, it would have refused permission - clearing up the widely held belief that the army was involved in the operation.

"The lesser charge is whether the army was sleeping when the American operation was carried out and that is something the army high command can live with," says analyst Farrukh Pitafi.

The bigger issue was that the army high command was suspected of having a part in the US operation which in turn was the reason for the extension given by the president to army chief General Kayani and then ISI chief General Shuja Pasha. "That blemish seems to have been cleaned," said Pitafi.

"The manner in which both candidates talked about Pakistan was insulting. Both agreed to violate our sovernignty by continuing drone attacks while one said that we were not a good ally and another said we would not have cooperated so we were bypassed," commented Talat Masood, an analyst and former army general.


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