Pakistan on Friday criticised US presidential hopeful Barack Obama for saying that, if elected, he might order unilateral military strikes inside this Islamic nation to root out terrorists.
Top Pakistan officials said Obama’s comment was irresponsible and likely made for political reasons related to the race for the Democratic nomination for next year’s US presidential election.
“It’s a very irresponsible statement, that’s all I can say,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khusheed Kasuri said. “As the election campaign in America is heating up we would not like American candidates to fight their elections and contest elections at our expense.”
Also on Friday, a senior Pakistani official condemned another presidential hopeful, Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, for saying best way he could think of to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on the US would be to threaten to retaliate by bombing the holiest Islamic sites of Mecca and Medina.
Obama triggered anger in Pakistan, a key ally of the US in its war on terror, when he said in a speech on Wednesday that as president he would order US military action against terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan if intelligence warranted it.
The Associated Press of Pakistan reported on Friday that Musharraf was asked at a dinner at Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s house on Thursday about the potential of US military operations in Pakistan, and told guests Pakistan was “fully capable” of tackling terrorists in the country and did not need any foreign assistance. Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said no foreign forces would be allowed to enter Pakistan, and said Obama appeared to be “not aware of our contribution” to the fight on terrorism.
In Pakistan’s national assembly on Friday, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sher Afgan said he would open a debate next week on recent criticism of Pakistan from several quarters in the US, including Tancredo.