Barack Obama’s trip to active combat theaters around the world has raised an important question: Is Obama having after-thoughts about his hard line policy for dealing with Pakistan, or has he changed his views to accommodate the on-the-ground realities he found on a maiden visit to one of toughest terrains of the world?
On his visit to Afghanistan, Obama sounded a more conciliatory tone towards Pakistan in contrast to his previous advocacy for unilateral military strikes on actionable intelligence inside Pakistani territory. Instead of encouraging US incursions inside Pakistan’s restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Obama says he would like to work with the government in Islamabad, “to root out terrorist camps on the Pakistani territory.”
In an interview on the CBS Evening News, Obama refused to advocate unilateral military action on targets inside Pakistani territory. Instead, he recognized the need for greater cooperation with Pakistan. He admitted that the US could not solve the security problems in Afghanistan without engaging Pakistan. Obama said the US should use its military and economic assistance to persuade Pakistan to act against the insurgents. He did not repeat his earlier talk of making military aid to Islamabad conditional on Pakistan’s performance in the “war on terror.” He also did not spell out the tools he would use as Commander-in-Chief to “press Pakistan hard” to fall in line with US policy and go after terrorist targets inside its territory. (more…)