Obama Speaks to Pakistan. What do Pakistanis Make of It?

Posted on March 27, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Foreign Relations
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Adil Najam

(June 4, 2009: President Obama made an important address to the so-called “Muslim World” today from Egypt. This post was originally on his March address to Pakistanis, but please do leave any comments on today’s speech here.)

US President Barak Obama has just laid out his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He says he wants to build a new people-centered and development-centered relationship with Pakistan. Including through a commitment to invest 1.5 billion dollars per year for next five years in development initiatives in Pakistan.

In his strategy, President Obama says: “The people of Pakistan want the same things that we want: an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security that can only come with the rule of law. The single greatest threat to that future comes from al Qaeda and their extremist allies, and that is why we must stand together.” He then goes on to elaborate: “A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone. Al Qaeda’s offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something different.” In order to implement this, he as proposes the following: “Security demands a new sense of shared responsibility. And that’s why we will launch a standing, trilateral dialogue among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Here is the text of President Obama’s statement:

Today, I’m announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this marks the conclusion of a careful policy review, led by Bruce, that I ordered as soon as I took office. My administration has heard from our military commanders, as well as our diplomats. We’ve consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, with our partners and our NATO allies, and with other donors and international organizations. We’ve also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. And now I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people.

The situation is increasingly perilous. It’s been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily. And most painfully, 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for American forces.

Many people in the United States — and many in partner countries that have sacrificed so much — have a simple question: What is our purpose in Afghanistan? After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there? And they deserve a straightforward answer.

So let me be clear: Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.

The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan. In the nearly eight years since 9/11, al Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. This almost certainly includes al Qaeda’s leadership: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe haven to hide, to train terrorists, to communicate with followers, to plot attacks, and to send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan. For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.

But this is not simply an American problem — far from it. It is, instead, an international security challenge of the highest order. Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and in Kabul. If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it, too, is likely to have ties to al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan. The safety of people around the world is at stake.

For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people — especially women and girls. The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.

As President, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future. We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends and our allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.

So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That’s the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: We will defeat you.

To achieve our goals, we need a stronger, smarter and comprehensive strategy. To focus on the greatest threat to our people, America must no longer deny resources to Afghanistan because of the war in Iraq. To enhance the military, governance and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have to marshal international support. And to defeat an enemy that heeds no borders or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan — which is why I’ve appointed Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is here, to serve as Special Representative for both countries, and to work closely with General Petraeus to integrate our civilian and military efforts.

Let me start by addressing the way forward in Pakistan.

The United States has great respect for the Pakistani people. They have a rich history and have struggled against long odds to sustain their democracy. The people of Pakistan want the same things that we want: an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security that can only come with the rule of law. The single greatest threat to that future comes from al Qaeda and their extremist allies, and that is why we must stand together.

The terrorists within Pakistan’s borders are not simply enemies of America or Afghanistan — they are a grave and urgent danger to the people of Pakistan. Al Qaeda and other violent extremists have killed several thousand Pakistanis since 9/11. They’ve killed many Pakistani soldiers and police. They assassinated Benazir Bhutto. They’ve blown up buildings, derailed foreign investment, and threatened the stability of the state. So make no mistake: al Qaeda and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within.

It’s important for the American people to understand that Pakistan needs our help in going after al Qaeda. This is no simple task. The tribal regions are vast, they are rugged, and they are often ungoverned. And that’s why we must focus our military assistance on the tools, training and support that Pakistan needs to root out the terrorists. And after years of mixed results, we will not, and cannot, provide a blank check.

Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders. And we will insist that action be taken — one way or another — when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.

The government’s ability to destroy these safe havens is tied to its own strength and security. To help Pakistan weather the economic crisis, we must continue to work with the IMF, the World Bank and other international partners. To lessen tensions between two nuclear-armed nations that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation, we must pursue constructive diplomacy with both India and Pakistan. To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must make clear that our relationship with Pakistan is grounded in support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the Pakistani people. And to demonstrate through deeds as well as words a commitment that is enduring, we must stand for lasting opportunity.

A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone. Al Qaeda’s offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something different. So today, I am calling upon Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by John Kerry and Richard Lugar that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years — resources that will build schools and roads and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan’s democracy. I’m also calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border regions to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued with violence. And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part — including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month.

I don’t ask for this support lightly. These are challenging times. Resources are stretched. But the American people must understand that this is a down payment on our own future — because the security of America and Pakistan is shared. Pakistan’s government must be a stronger partner in destroying these safe havens, and we must isolate al Qaeda from the Pakistani people. And these steps in Pakistan are also indispensable to our efforts in Afghanistan, which will see no end to violence if insurgents move freely back and forth across the border.

Security demands a new sense of shared responsibility. And that’s why we will launch a standing, trilateral dialogue among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our nations will meet regularly, with Secretaries Clinton and Secretary Gates leading our effort. Together, we must enhance intelligence sharing and military cooperation along the border, while addressing issues of common concern like trade, energy, and economic development.

This is just one part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the al Qaeda safe haven that it was before 9/11. To succeed, we and our friends and allies must reverse the Taliban’s gains, and promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government.

Our troops have fought bravely against a ruthless enemy. Our civilians have made great sacrifices. Our allies have borne a heavy burden. Afghans have suffered and sacrificed for their future. But for six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq. Now, we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals.

I’ve already ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops that had been requested by General McKiernan for many months. These soldiers and Marines will take the fight to the Taliban in the south and the east, and give us a greater capacity to partner with Afghan security forces and to go after insurgents along the border. This push will also help provide security in advance of the important presidential elections in Afghanistan in August.

At the same time, we will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country. That’s how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home.

For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. And those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change. The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity. And later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan security forces. For the first time, this will truly resource our effort to train and support the Afghan army and police. Every American unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and we will seek additional trainers from our NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner. We will accelerate our efforts to build an Afghan army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011 — and increases in Afghan forces may very well be needed as our plans to turn over security responsibility to the Afghans go forward.

This push must be joined by a dramatic increase in our civilian effort. Afghanistan has an elected government, but it is undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people. The economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency. The people of Afghanistan seek the promise of a better future. Yet once again, we’ve seen the hope of a new day darkened by violence and uncertainty.

So to advance security, opportunity and justice — not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces — we need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers. That’s how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs. And that’s why I’m ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground. That’s also why we must seek civilian support from our partners and allies, from the United Nations and international aid organizations — an effort that Secretary Clinton will carry forward next week in The Hague.

At a time of economic crisis, it’s tempting to believe that we can shortchange this civilian effort. But make no mistake: Our efforts will fail in Afghanistan and Pakistan if we don’t invest in their future. And that’s why my budget includes indispensable investments in our State Department and foreign assistance programs. These investments relieve the burden on our troops. They contribute directly to security. They make the American people safer. And they save us an enormous amount of money in the long run — because it’s far cheaper to train a policeman to secure his or her own village than to help a farmer seed a crop — or to help a farmer seed a crop than it is to send our troops to fight tour after tour of duty with no transition to Afghan responsibility.

As we provide these resources, the days of unaccountable spending, no-bid contracts, and wasteful reconstruction must end. So my budget will increase funding for a strong Inspector General at both the State Department and USAID, and include robust funding for the special inspector generals for Afghan Reconstruction.

And I want to be clear: We cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption that causes Afghans to lose faith in their own leaders. Instead, we will seek a new compact with the Afghan government that cracks down on corrupt behavior, and sets clear benchmarks, clear metrics for international assistance so that it is used to provide for the needs of the Afghan people.

In a country with extreme poverty that’s been at war for decades, there will also be no peace without reconciliation among former enemies. Now, I have no illusion that this will be easy. In Iraq, we had success in reaching out to former adversaries to isolate and target al Qaeda in Iraq. We must pursue a similar process in Afghanistan, while understanding that it is a very different country.

There is an uncompromising core of the Taliban. They must be met with force, and they must be defeated. But there are also those who’ve taken up arms because of coercion, or simply for a price. These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course. And that’s why we will work with local leaders, the Afghan government, and international partners to have a reconciliation process in every province. As their ranks dwindle, an enemy that has nothing to offer the Afghan people but terror and repression must be further isolated. And we will continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans — including women and girls.

Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. We’ll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan security forces and our progress in combating insurgents. We will measure the growth of Afghanistan’s economy, and its illicit narcotics production. And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals.

None of the steps that I’ve outlined will be easy; none should be taken by America alone. The world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos or al Qaeda operates unchecked. We have a shared responsibility to act — not because we seek to project power for its own sake, but because our own peace and security depends on it. And what’s at stake at this time is not just our own security — it’s the very idea that free nations can come together on behalf of our common security. That was the founding cause of NATO six decades ago, and that must be our common purpose today.

My administration is committed to strengthening international organizations and collective action, and that will be my message next week in Europe. As America does more, we will ask others to join us in doing their part. From our partners and NATO allies, we will seek not simply troops, but rather clearly defined capabilities: supporting the Afghan elections, training Afghan security forces, a greater civilian commitment to the Afghan people. For the United Nations, we seek greater progress for its mandate to coordinate international action and assistance, and to strengthen Afghan institutions.

And finally, together with the United Nations, we will forge a new Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan that brings together all who should have a stake in the security of the region — our NATO allies and other partners, but also the Central Asian states, the Gulf nations and Iran; Russia, India and China. None of these nations benefit from a base for al Qaeda terrorists, and a region that descends into chaos. All have a stake in the promise of lasting peace and security and development.

That is true, above all, for the coalition that has fought together in Afghanistan, side by side with Afghans. The sacrifices have been enormous. Nearly 700 Americans have lost their lives. Troops from over 20 countries have also paid the ultimate price. All Americans honor the service and cherish the friendship of those who have fought, and worked, and bled by our side. And all Americans are awed by the service of our own men and women in uniform, who’ve borne a burden as great as any other generation’s. They and their families embody the example of selfless sacrifice.

I remind everybody, the United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on September 11, 2001, for doing nothing more than going about their daily lives. Al Qaeda and its allies have since killed thousands of people in many countries. Most of the blood on their hands is the blood of Muslims, who al Qaeda has killed and maimed in far greater number than any other people. That is the future that al Qaeda is offering to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan — a future without hope or opportunity; a future without justice or peace.

So understand, the road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days ahead. But we will seek lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan that promise a new day for their people. And we will use all elements of our national power to defeat al Qaeda, and to defend America, our allies, and all who seek a better future. Because the United States of America stands for peace and security, justice and opportunity. That is who we are, and that is what history calls on us to do once more.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

As we have written about in detail, this is a U.S. President who has been to Pakistan as a young man, whose mother worked on development projects in Pakistan, and who has campaigned on the need for a Pakistan strategy. Do you think all of that has shown through in his remarks?

What do Pakistanis think and say about what they heard from President Obama. What would or should we Pakistanis say to President Obama in return. Have your say.

57 Comments on “Obama Speaks to Pakistan. What do Pakistanis Make of It?”

  1. Aslam says:
    March 27th, 2009 11:02 am

    I think he struck the right tone but real test is implementation.

    At least he is accepting that the real costs are to Pakistanis. It is Pakistanis who have been doing all the dying!

  2. jk says:
    March 27th, 2009 11:12 am

    $1.5 Billion is much needed but there needs to be oversight and regulation other wise the only person getting the $1.5 billion would be zardari (and other corrupt government people)

  3. Jusathot says:
    March 27th, 2009 11:27 am

    Husain Haqqani Pakistan

  4. hopeful says:
    March 27th, 2009 11:29 am

    Obama’s message and plan make me hopeful for Pakistan once again. Now, if only the Pakistan government would show some fortitude and integrity to avail this opportunity to get rid of the ignorant mullahs and for once keep the betterment of the nation ahead of every thing else!

    The people need to figure out a way for accountability for the leeches like Zardari and their cronies. What can and should the public do to deal with this cancer of corruption?

  5. Nazra says:
    March 27th, 2009 12:41 pm

    Any aid, as before, will disappear into the pockets of officials, experts, consultants. There won’t be any success on any front until there is transparency, accountabilty and the commitment to keep at it until there are positive results.

    The economic zones are fine, but what about the millions of disaffected, poor blokes who see nothing in their future and can barely survive. How would they be empowered, educated, given hope?

    How about the hundreds of schools in Swat and other places in the NWFP that have been blown up? Are they going to be built? Anytime soon?

    Questions are many, answers few. Obama means well, but I still believe he is still can’t figure out what to do in that part of the world. I speak as an ardent supporter of Obama’s, but one who can’t abide his policies in that part of the world.

  6. Adil Saleem says:
    March 27th, 2009 12:55 pm

    I think there is nothing new to this policy. These are the same old statements that AlQaeda is planning new attacks on America from within Pakistan. They have strongholds in Pakistan. Pakistan need to ‘do more’. We cannot give them blank check. Blah blah blah.

    The whole legitimacy of war against terror is questionable as is the case in Iraq’s war. Pakistani govt. need to understand that by participating in America’s so called War Against Terror, Pakistani people are suffering the most. Getting $1.5 billion aid will not change the chaos and turmoil that is prevailing in the country due to this war. Neither this aid will reduce hatred of people due to drone attacks. If you really want good news, then stop these drone attacks which are killing innocent Pakistanis.

  7. faraz says:
    March 27th, 2009 12:57 pm

    Well Pakistan is a deeply divided society and we have neo-Taliban in our lines.

    I dont think Jamat, PML (N), Hameed Gul and Imran Khan are going to buy Obama policy on Afghanistan.

    They think that USA will be force to leave and their mythical heroes “Taliban” will rule the Afghanistan or may be Pakistan with partership of these right group.

    Mr Nawaz Sharif is now most popular politician of Punjab. Why he don’t speaks out against terrorism. Now chief justice is back. There is no more ascuse.

  8. Edward says:
    March 27th, 2009 1:21 pm

    Is this part of the 100 day promise in which “he’ll address the muslim world”? Maybe from Pakistan?

    This whole idea of talking to people directly, wishing them well, etc is a new idea and does well for America’s image. But I’m not sure if the people of Iran, and now Pakistan, really care if America’s president’s talking to them.

  9. Khurram Farooqui says:
    March 27th, 2009 1:54 pm

    We are where we are because of short-sighted policies for the last 30 years, both from our government and the US. We created and supported the Taliban because we wanted to limit India’s influence in Afghanistan, and the US turned a blind eye as long as they were fighting the Soviets (I am summarizing). Now it is a big problem for both Pakistan and the US.

    It seems like finally the US is serious about working with Pakistan to resolve the issue. They want the money to be directed towards education and infrastructure. We need to do our part. Stop playing a double game (Parts of the ISI still support the Taliban) and get serious about fixing our own problems before it is too late (if it isn’t too late already).

  10. Till the 'Drone' Doth Us Part says:
    March 27th, 2009 1:56 pm

    They (Ronald Reagan to Libya, George Bush Sr to Iraq and Kuwait, Bill Clinton to Sudan and Afghanistan, Bush Jr to Iran) only speak to us when they want to bomb us. So let us all turn a deaf ear.

  11. ATP Administrator says:
    March 27th, 2009 2:09 pm

    The post has now been updated, including with links and full text of Mr. Obama’s remarks.

  12. Rehan says:
    March 27th, 2009 2:50 pm

    Can anyone explain the terms of a usual us aid package? Is it a loan with interest and a payable in a number of years or a grant with conditions and monitoring. What conditions are usually imposed?

  13. Durrani says:
    March 27th, 2009 2:54 pm

    I think the most important thing here is NOT the aid package. It is the tri-country group on strategy with US, Pakistan and Afghanistan sitting together. That was the biggest flaw in the Bush approach and that is the real new thing here.

  14. Verbal_Reciprocity says:
    March 27th, 2009 3:28 pm

    Historically, countries have only developed on their own hard work and ingenuity not because they have had money thrown at them. Does anyone seriously expect Mr. 10% to not take his share? (Of course that is not including everyone else down the ladder)

  15. Afsandyar says:
    March 27th, 2009 3:30 pm

    I like this man.

    I think he is sincere to America and also to Pakistan.

    I think he is making honest effort. I wish our politicians will also do so.

    He is right, Pakistan’s survival depends on rooting out Al Qaeda.

  16. NARGIS says:
    March 27th, 2009 3:46 pm

    Right now, I think Obama is more sincere to Pakistan than our own leaders are.

  17. Waqas says:
    March 27th, 2009 3:54 pm

    I agree with Nargis, all we need is a ruler who is little sincere with Pakistan and we can really gain from this offer

  18. Rafique says:
    March 27th, 2009 4:42 pm

    I really think Pakistan could not have asked for a better plan. The only thing he could have added that we want is for the drone attacks to stop. But with things like the mosque bombing today can you blame them. I think if we can get our act straight maybe those will also stop.

  19. Bashar says:
    March 27th, 2009 5:18 pm

    I wish we as Muslims start appreciating our friends. Peace is what Islam wants. And if any body claims that he is a good Muslim, he should work hand in hand with President Obama, who is the most sincere human being on the face of earth at this time. I am not very hopeful that we will be also sincere, but if we do we can achieve what Obama is saying. Wish to have a pakistan free of hate and torture. We as an American can really make a difference by demanding a transparency in Pakistan Government.

  20. Bloody Civilian says:
    March 27th, 2009 5:36 pm

    Obama has to commit to nation building, proper and in earnest, in Afghanistan too. To give the people outside Kabul a real stake in the country, which they will then protect against the Taliban (intead of what happens currently where the Taliban offer them a salary opposed to the state offering them nothing).

    As for the aid offered to Pakistan, Bush Adminstration’s $750 million aid package for FATA is still in doldrums, after more than four years. Why:

    1. First govt of pak (GOP) had the terminology of Economic Opportunity Zones changed to Reconstruction(!) Opportunity Zones. So the money will not be for general infrasturcture development and creating FATA’s capacity to absorb the investment, but to reconstruct what was destroyed (in the War on Terror i.e rebuild mud houses!).

    2. Then GOP insisted that the earthquake-affected areas of Kashmir be included in the ROZ’s.

    3. Now GOP has been insisting that FATA does not have the infrastructure nor the skills/entrepreneurship to sustain industry, so aid-supported industry must be located in the Punjab. Where the Punjab, out of brotherly generosity, will ensure that at least 50% of the workforce will originate from FATA! (Reminds me of a bewildered British Parliamentarian observing in 1963, from the comfort of the steam locomotive, local labourers extracting marble from a quarry in the Khyber. He was told that the stone will be transported to Karachi. “Is there cheaper labour there?”, he asked. “No, the labour also goes from here”, he was told. All because the seth couldn’t be bothered to leave his comfortable Karachi!)

  21. Quratulain Saeed says:
    March 27th, 2009 5:58 pm

    You know what, i really hope that whatever aid we get from America is used for the purpose it is given for and does not get lost once again in Zardari’s swiss accounts!!!

  22. Riaz Haq says:
    March 27th, 2009 6:34 pm

    Notwithstanding additional US aid to Pakistan, the unilateral and impractical demands on Pakistanis by the Obama administration while continuing Predator strikes and dismissing the strategic interests of Pakistan in its neighborhood do not add up to a serious and workable strategy. Such a strategy may look good on paper but it will not lead to US success on the ground in Afghanistan.

    For more, please visit: http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/03/obamas-new-afghan-pakistan-regional.html

  23. Maqbool says:
    March 27th, 2009 7:04 pm

    I think countries should be treated like corporations. If they are failing, there should be “nationalization” or a forced sale like it happened with Wachovia Bank. Same thing should happen with countries. May sound radical or too new of an idea, but I won’t be surprised if would be doing this few decades from now. With more and more societies depending on “bailouts” from wealthier govts around the world, it will not be a wrong idea that donor countries get a share in those countries not just a promise to repay. This will be little more forceful than what IMF does nowadays. So is Pakistan up for sale?

  24. Osama Ali says:
    March 27th, 2009 7:04 pm

    I just think this whole war against terrorist is getting really old now. Its just another country they want to check off. If US really wants to help Pakistan then first stop saying in front of the world that it the most dangerous place on earth. Secondly US need to help Pakistani Army with equipment and training just the way they do it for Israel. How come US reacts towards Pakistan so quickly and never say or does anything when it comes down on Israel?

    Its time we should understand western politics and tell them stop pushing around. Pakistan does have internal problems, but US has nothing to do with that. US has the worse gangs in the world no one says anything. If US and Obama is really interested in help Pakistan this time it should be done infront of the whole world and every single step should be monitored. Most important thing that USA needs to stop is the drone and missles that’s killing hundreds of Pakistani people. How come he is not concerend about those people, they are Pakistani citizens. Stop killing and talk to us like a friend and dont threat us with saying “on way or another”. I think he is doing exactly oppsite to what he campained. Gold Bless Pakistan.

  25. March 27th, 2009 7:09 pm

    I work for the U.S. Department of State. On March 31 we will hold a live chat with a senior U.S. State Department official on the new U.S. strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    We wanted to invite you and anyone in your network to participate and get answers to your questions. You can post them in the chat room below.

    Best Regards,
    Tim Receveur
    U.S. Department of State

    Here are the details if you are interested:
    Tuesday, March 31 at 8:00 EDT (12:00 GMT) – 1700 Islamabad

    U.S. President Obama announced a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Tuesday, March 31 at 08:00 EDT (12:00 GMT) we will be joined by a U.S. Government Official to answer your questions about this new policy.

    Advance questions are much more likely to be answered. Please submit your questions as soon as possible.

    Please go to http://statedept.connectsolutions.com/conx to submit your question. No registration is needed. Simply choose “Enter as a Guest,” type in your preferred screen name and join the discussion. Once submitted your questions will appear in red.

    Chat room:


  26. Aqil says:
    March 27th, 2009 7:09 pm

    Time will tell how much he is willing to walk the talk, especially about being open minded enough to review his policies in light of the results on the ground.

    For now, I can’t help being concerned about the following things:

    * Drone attacks still continuing and killing civilians along with Alqaeda targets in a way that only creates public resentment?

    * Aid money going into Zardari’s Swiss accounts and we Pakistanis still being constantly reminded by the Americans of how much money they have been “generous” enough to give us?

    * A complete lack of willingness on part of the US to address Pakistan’s understandable concerns viz-a-viz India, which is especially reflected in its policy of giving India free run in Afghanistan. If the US wants Pakistan to be fully on board, it will have to accomodate Pakistan’s fears, even if the Americans think these are somewhat exagerated. How much role the US gives to India and other anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan is going to be seen as an indicator of its sincerity towards Pakistan, and will play an important role in determining how much cooperation it is going to get from Pakistan’s military leadership.

    * Endless Pakistan bashing and centering the entire discourse on Afghanistan around questions about Pakistan’s sincerity in combating extremism. Whether the US is honestly willing to review its own role in creating the present mess instead of blaming it all on Pakistan, and whether it’s not playing a double game towards Pakistan by tolerating/ignoring/allowing anti-Pakistan activities from Afghan soil are questions that Pakistanis aren’t going to ignore.

    Ombama’s words are going to have credibility only if the actions of his government actually demonstrate that the US is serious in addressing these issues.

  27. Faria Khan says:
    March 27th, 2009 9:39 pm

    All I heard from Obama was blah,blah,blah and I’m a supporter of his! Has anyone actually calculated what $1.5 billion per pakistani person looks like. It is peanuts and it does not address the billions we have destroyed (buildings, trade and lives). We have to face reality, the Americans are not going to be in Afghanistan for the long haul. Couple that with India’s growing involvement and destabilising rhetoric the ISI are never fully going to give up on the Taliban.

    If they were serious in helping stem the tide. They would sit the American and Afghan troops on the boarder, give the farmers in Afghanistan an alternative to poppy cultivation to end this madness.

    What the hell have they been doing in Afghanistan for 7 years. They are going to leave us with this mess.

  28. Calculating_Misfit says:
    March 28th, 2009 1:24 am

    Many posters seem to focus on a few topics in (and not in) Obama

  29. Sameer says:
    March 28th, 2009 3:49 am

    I beleive pakistan need more in aid than these few billion dollars, probably few hundred should be enough and ofcourse no strings attached and let pak decide to how to spend this with no foreign intervention. This should be the victory on extremism.

  30. Zareen Niazi says:
    March 28th, 2009 4:04 am

    All comments are well meaning, but I think, that please go to the White House website and post your comments directly to Mr. Obama. Following are the questions / comments that I posted on his website;

    The question is – How will you ensure that this assistance package of $1.5 billion / year to Pakistan, does not end up in Mr. Zardari’s Swiss Account.

    I hope you understand that its a dark reality in Pakistan’s history that most of the assistance disappears into the pockets of corrupt leaders, politicians, officials, experts and consultants. There won’t be any success on any front until there is transparency, accountability and the commitment for a positive change.

    How will you ensure that the trickle down affect of such assistance goes to the deserving segments of the society. How would they be empowered, educated and given hope for a better and secure future.

    How about the hundreds of schools in Swat and other places in the NWFP that have been blown up? Are they going to be rebuilt? How will these ‘talibans’ be controlled?

    Questions are many and answers few. Mr. President, I think , your policy has good intentions and means well, but I still believe, to keep out the corruption and maintain transparency is a tall order.

    As American tax payer, I insist that the aid and assistance package should not end up in the hands of incompetent leaders and politicians, in general, and Mr. Zardari, in particular.

    I hope you understand the severity and seriousness of this problem in Pakistan.

  31. Zohaib Farrukh says:
    March 28th, 2009 5:13 am

    Something just popped into my mind. I’ll say it anyways.

    This may sound silly as of today….but….

    Give FATA to Afghanistan. We don’t need this wild-wild-west region. And Kashmir and Gujarat to Pakistan.

    We expect initial destability, but many long-term problems would be solved once and for all.

    March 28th, 2009 5:15 am

    My Dear President Barack Obama____

    Thank you for your sentiments & Trust on alive & dynamic nation of elightened Pakistan – a reliable partners of UN family members working as

  33. Usman says:
    March 28th, 2009 7:20 am

    Obama seems sincere and has announced a strategy that seems better informed as compared to the strategy of the previous Bush Administration.

    However, there should be some checks and balances with regard to the funds that US disburses to Pakistan’s government (much like Obama said that the performance of Afghanistan’s government will be monitored by metrics). No Pakistani and no American wants the money released by the US government to be laundered (very easy thing to do in Pakistan – especially if you have the right connections) by politicians/bureaucrats and end up in their pockets. Therefore, the US should stringently measure the performance of the Pak Government with regard to proper usage of funds to build roads, schools and infrastructure, especially in the western, tribal areas. If Pak govt uses the funds diligently (with results on the ground) then the US govt may increase the aid in subsequent years incrementally.

    US should heavily increase its investment in education sector of Pakistan (both primary and secondary) and increase the number of scholarships given to Pakistani graduates – who should be required to come back to Pakistan and work there for a certain period at least. Investing in education is way, way more important for winning this war and stopping Pakistan’s fast drift towards extremism.

    Also, the US administration should not expect that Pak Government/Army will readjust its focus from India to internal threats when India has 500,000 strong army in Kashmir. Pakistan cannot unilaterally readjust its focus whereas India retains its current doctrine. BOTH and India and Pakistan should readjust their focus from external threats to internal threats! Expecting and/or demanding that Pakistan should unilaterally start believing that India is not the enemy, is foolhardy. Taali dono haathon se bajti hai! (U can clap with both hands, but not one hand!)

    Lastly, we Pakistanis need to stop criticizing US for either giving us too little aid – or interfering in our affairs too much. Lets face it, we are economically weak and are disunited, and are thus easily exploited by other countries. We Pakistanis need to get our act together and follow everyday laws such as paying taxes, not bribing, not littering, conducting our businesses fairly, not breaking traffic signals etc. and contribute to our country’s future by investing causes that we believe in. Remember, no one in the world can help us – nor do they have any responsibility to do so – we must help ourselves first. Also, we must understand that a pluralistic society is way, way more preferable to our current society.

  34. Duriya says:
    March 28th, 2009 8:17 am

    Obama may be well-meaning but this problem is not going to be solved by aid money and it is not going to be solved by drones. So both US policy options are misguided. The US can buy support of the government but unless it first gets the support of the people and trust of the world the extremists will continue to win.

  35. March 28th, 2009 9:13 am

    I think what Obama is doing by putting more forces on the ground is to escalate the war initially and put pressure on the insurgents and then bribe people away from Taliban. This is classic stick and carrot policy and how much it will succeed; only time will tell.

    Another very important aspect is the increase in Afghan national army from 80000 to 134000. I believe that this is most important aspect of his speech as a strong central force will definitely have some impact on the overall situation. If the situation in Afghanistan stabilise to the extent that local army takes charge of the situation (even if the Taliban are not totally defeated) and foreign forces leave than situation in Pakistan will cool down as well.


    By Sikander Hayat

  36. Ali Dada says:
    March 28th, 2009 11:39 am

    Obama or any Western politician is never going to be sincere to Pakistan. They were not sincere when Pakistan was under British rule. They were not sincere during cold war and they are not going to be sincere now.

    Pakistanis in Pakistan know this but Allah has put one defect in all Pakistanis – we can’t help but vote for people who only care for themselves and not for Pakistan.

  37. yaseen ch says:
    March 28th, 2009 1:09 pm

    i think Obama should form a 4 member committee two from Pakistan and two from America of senior diplomats to come up with strategy to engage the Afghan population in Dialogue and opportunities to be listen what they think.

  38. Javed Khan says:
    March 28th, 2009 2:35 pm

    Obama is surrounded by so called Afghan and Pakistan experts must of them are ignorant of our culture and values. They believe that shear force or money can solve any political problem. Musharraf was threatened and he sold us to dogs. But in the end he had to go and violence increased. Spineless shoe kissers have thrust a feudal lord, Zardari on us; he is going to make as much money as he can, before he is booted out.
    What we need is twelve years of free education.
    Reduce army’s budget in half.

  39. Riaz Haq says:
    March 28th, 2009 3:34 pm

    As a Pakistani-American, I have a stake in both nations and care for each. I would like to see an outcome that is good both US and Pakistan.

    If we start with the premise that Pakistan and US can build a win-win relationship, then it will become possible. If we seriously explore the objectives and what cards each side can play, then it will not only be possible but very likely to have win-win relationship with US.

    To start with, we must agree it is in the interest of both sides to stop terror attacks that kill mostly Muslims but also threaten the Americans.

    Then look at what each side wants to give and take to get to that objective.

    For example, Pakistan is extremely critical to the US for it to get rid of Al Qaeda which is a global terrorist outfit headquartered in Afghan-Pak border areas. Over 80% of the supplies for US and NATO forces pass through Pak territory. The alternatives to Pakistan route are few and not as workable. In return for these supplies, Pakistan can and should demand that all attacks on Pak territory by US stop forthwith and the US provide Pak with the resources to deal with its internal conflict and economic crisis.

    The US also wants Pakistan to stop focusing on India and pay more attention to the Western front. Pakistan should make it conditional upon the US and international community putting real serious pressure on India to resolve Kashmir and, if India doesn’t respond positively, to threaten to pull out the US companies and investments from India. This will bring India to its knees in short order, as it did in 2002 when the US state dept and British foreign office issued a negative travel advisory and GE and other western companies started pulling out their people from India. The scenes of the foreigners flocking to the airports forced India/BJP to pull its troops back from the Pak border and start talks with Mush.

    The US wants ISI to cut ties with Taliban. Instead of complying, Pakistan should persuade the US to see ISI-Taliban ties as assets that will be used to try and reconcile with the vast majority of the Taliban and stop the violence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    These are just a few ideas that should be seriously explored for Pakistan to build an alliance with the US, rather than compliance as demanded by the US.

  40. Riaz Haq says:
    March 28th, 2009 8:20 pm

    One of the very serious crises brewing in Pakistan is the growing water scarcity. As we all know, water is essential for sustaining life.

    Last summer, farmers in agricultural heartland of Pakistan began to notice the levels of both the river and groundwater starting to fall.

    Pakistan has blamed India, saying it is withholding millions of cubic feet of water upstream in Indian-administered Kashmir and storing it in the massive Baglihar dam in order to produce hydro-electricity.

    As is often said, the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir is much more about Indus water than about a piece of land. The headwaters of the Indus River are located in Kashmir. Whomever controls the headwaters, controls the river. The Indus is vital. It brings green fertile life wherever it flows. The Indus begins in Kashmir, then flows through Pakistan, then flows into mainland India. If India chose, since Kashmir is controlled by it, they could dam the Indus and change the flow of the river, as they are apparently doing at Baglihar over Chenab. Without fertile land to grow crops, Pakistan would become a desert and its people would starve.

    The Obama plan envisions persuading Pakistan to stop focusing military resources on its regional rival, India, so it can concentrate more on fighting insurgents in its FATA region. This goal may be especially hard to achieve given the longstanding Kashmir dispute, the history of three wars in South Asia in more than a half century

  41. Zahid says:
    March 29th, 2009 4:06 pm

    You know Pakistan is in good hands now that the President of the U.S can pronounce Pakistan the way it is suppose to be pronounced. I consider that a step in the right direction.

    Pakistan is full of thugs, the most corrupt person in Pakistan is currently the President. In 5 years with $1.5 Billion a year Zardari will be $750,000,000 richer (10% of $7.5 Billion).

    During Musharraf’s time, a lot of money was given to Pakistan. Has anyone seen it trickling down to the lowest common denominator?

    I agree with Usman that Obama seems sincere but is Zardari the best person he should be giving money to?

  42. umar shah says:
    March 29th, 2009 5:31 pm

    Syed Mohammad Abdul Quddus Barrack Hussain Obama, ahlan wasahlan and marhaba! maybe president Kardari…I’m sorry Zardari can work with you to continue to build ‘civilian institutions’, he has already done a lot for democracy and he is ‘pro-western’ as your media loves to refer to him. He’s a friend and ally you can trust. You are truly one of the most intelligent US presidents of all times.

  43. RANA says:
    March 30th, 2009 3:24 am

    Very interesting to see that the comments on his post on the Pakistaniat page at Facebook are quite different from the comments here. Not sure why that is so but it may be that different types of people read the blog here and on Facebook.

  44. Zubair says:
    April 1st, 2009 5:29 pm

    Dangerous, dangerous territories.

    Terrorism aside (and there are so many conspiracies out there) this is the fault of Muslims for being so DISUNITED. For being greedy, for hating each other
    Here’s what I say:
    USA should take the blame for practically creating the Taliban during the soviet period of history.
    Pakistan’s ISI should stop collaberating with the Taliban – quit it, stop spreading the disease called terrorism.
    The Taliban are a dangerous bunch of idiots who need sorting out, once and for all.
    Fears regarding India are not unfound. India may be trying to curry favour due to terrorism right now to try to take Kashmir back.
    In terms of Kashmir – split the water, take the Muslims back and let them have it. What a waste of human lives over a piece of land.
    Do I think Obama will do anything? No. I think USA is gearing up for another war on terrorism, but with the economic crisis, will they be able to afford it? I hope not.

    The USA should give the money to Imran Khan. Why? Because of all the politicians in the region, he’ll actually help rebuild Pakistan once more. That 7 billion will go to the Pakistani’s if they listen to him.
    The Pakistani people should inform one another of Mr 10%, Mr ‘I’m going to steal all your money and leave you to starve’ Ghadari. Mr. Ghadari and get him booted out and get someone decent in.


    In regards to terrorism in general – in my honest opinion, no sane person would kill themselves for 72 virgins or for paradise. It just doesn’t make sense. So check all the injustice so far:
    Iraq war, which has led to a major increase in terrorism, for no reason except oil
    Israel-Palestine issue which has created terrorists
    Pakistan who helped nurture the Taliban
    Pakistanis who continually vote for corruption
    Afghan issue and the Taliban who were created by USA to fight the soveits and have turned rotten
    USA who
    Britain who split up India and Pakistan and left them to clear up the huge mess. Britain who handed Palestine to Jews after World War 2
    The Saudi government who supports terrorism
    The Wahabi ideology
    Masjids who are promoting terrorism by feeding on peoples poverty in SWAT etc

    Make dua everyone, because I think a war with Pakistan is next…
    Allah swt bless the Muslims and Pakistan and all those who love peace.

    British born 17 yr old Pakistani who knows what he’s on about.

  45. Azra says:
    June 4th, 2009 1:09 pm

    I thought Obama’s speech today was very good. Striaight talk, but heartfelt. What did others think.

  46. Arsalan Ali says:
    June 4th, 2009 1:13 pm

    The speech was nice because he is a good speaker. But the question is what will he do. The drone attacks continue so what good are just words.

  47. Durrani says:
    June 4th, 2009 1:23 pm

    I am not sure why media is making a big deal about this speech. Its just a speech. Wake me up when he changes policy.

  48. USMAN says:
    June 4th, 2009 1:31 pm

    Why doesn’t ATP have a separate post on his speech?

    It was an important speech and a good one. We needed to hear this and even more Americans need to hear this.

  49. Tasleem says:
    June 4th, 2009 1:34 pm

    I think any relations with the US should be based on a clear and upfront understanding of each other’s interests. He talked good and he talked straight.

  50. Kamran says:
    June 4th, 2009 2:15 pm

    I like Obama, always liked him. But the speech did not make me like him better. I will wait for him to change actual policy on ground.

  51. Baig says:
    June 4th, 2009 2:20 pm

    Frankly, it did not have much for Pakistanis at all in this speech. It was really aimed at the Middle East. I wish he had actually spoken more on the IDP crisis and taken a humanist view rather than a “Muslim” v “America” view of things.

  52. June 4th, 2009 2:46 pm


    Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al

  53. Saba Ali says:
    June 4th, 2009 2:53 pm

    Interesting that this ‘official’ version doe snot have the Assalamu Alikum at the beginning, which may have been the most important part for this audience!

  54. June 4th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Here are a few comments on this speech posted on the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “nEvEr trUst WhO makE uR bRo UR eNemY ~ :@”
    - “jb obama ne AoA kaha mujhe itni khushi hui kia batun … i think he z da rite person..”
    - “Barack Hussein Obama’s today’s Speach is very impress i think .. its a good move from america to create new relations with Muslim Countires!! i dun think that dere iz sumthing negative!!”
    - “Beautiful and deceptive choice of words. I am impressed, he is a good speaker, I give him full marks. Obama knows how to manipulate and win hearts with a little effort and no display of arrogance.”

  55. June 4th, 2009 3:25 pm

    well,one of the facebook user “ARSLAN JAVED” wrote this comment on facebook that “DeY aRe nOt plAyiN WiD WorDs ~ YoU fOoL ~
    DeY aRe PlayiN WiD oUr CoUnTrY, LivEs, PeOplE AnD yoU aRe AdmIriN hIs SpEeCh ~
    sHoUlD b WeLL AwArE oF WaT iS gOnNa hAPpEn NeXt”
    and I am totally AGREE with him,
    thats is why i wrote a poem for the PAKISTANIS, so your comments are always welcome, u just have to click this link to get to the poem! i think its not hard! isnt it??
    here is the link. feel free to send ur comments to my email id that is sarmad_ahmed@msn.com =)

  56. Farrukh says:
    June 4th, 2009 3:38 pm

    Many Pakistanis are just so blinded by their Anti-Americanism that they cannot recognize a good thing when they see it. We should be happy that there is someone in the White House who is trying to change things for the better. The questions is, are we willing to do the same. I am not sure we have yet come to accept all our own faults in this relationship or the things we have been doing wrong (many many things).

  57. Lateef says:
    June 4th, 2009 4:25 pm

    I wish we had leaders who were capable of speaking like this on complex and difficult issues. With clarity and with strength.

    No single speech ever changes anything, but it is a good start.

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)