Obama: a Pakistan perspective

We have just made history, said Barack Obama, on the turning moment of the US election 08, Martin Luther King had a dream and Barack Obama has done it in reality. In a country, where a citizen did not have the ability to sit in the front seat of a bus on the basis of the colour of his skin, an African American in the White House is indeed a great event in history and not just extraordinary. A God given opportunity (happening) to move for the better. As all men are equal. "In this defining moment change has come to America." But this change must also have to be felt positively, the world over, as the U.S is the big power country. Thus whatever happens there is impacting the world. In this 'aura of change and euphoria' experienced by different countries, the fact remains that the US has a task ahead to change the glaring ground situation of injustice, conflicts and war. It would crucially require a new approach on the 'war of terror'. And a comprehension of 'why' has this unusual phenomenon happened in the world today. The US within the role of a world policeman has a responsibility of providing peace to 'a world torn apart'. But a world looking with 'hope'. It is definitely a good time. But a 'watch and wait moment' as the people of the world look on. In a Pakistan perspective, the election of Barack Obama as President of the US is well taken. Not merely because of the correct pronunciation of 'Pakistan', by a US President, but on a more serious footing: The impact of the 'war on terror' in Pakistan and the ongoing crisis it has created in the northern areas of the country. The issue of Kashmir to move towards a solution in the near future. The worsening situation in the northern tribal areas, is not only bad for Pakistan, but is destabilizing the region. Therefore it is hoped that the Obama administration will change policy in this context. There is a mention of a 'regional approach' for Afghanistan, but how that unfolds with effects on Pakistan is yet to be seen. Nonetheless it is clear that a 'drone-and-boots-on-the ground' strategy could prove a disaster. In fact it is much resented by the people. For instance a layman expressed his opinion on a TV channel that the war is not for terror but for U.S presence and interests. So, whose hearts and minds are being won? As it does not appear that this war can be sold to the common man who belongs there. And this is happening with an increasing number of drone bombings. So with feelings like these, how can one force war on to a people of another country. It is also being seen as a threat to the sovereignty of the country. In this perspective US Cent Com Chief General David Petraes has reportedly said, while speaking to the US media "In general there is mutual agreement on the nature of the threat in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a threat that they increasingly see as a threat to Pakistan's existence. This is not our war. This is their war and it is a result of extremists carrying out acts of truly indiscriminate violence. Earlier foreign media cited 'Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world' creating false notions about the country's nuclear potential. It appears that this has not worked. Instead the US has to come to terms with reality for a new approach on the actual problems. This spells change and that is why Barack Obama appears as good news for Pakistan. It should essentially translate into a dialogue approach, as an earlier 'wild west' policy and 'the use of force' has shown signs of failure. It probably could not even work in cowboy land and this terrain has its own characteristic. It has reportedly been stated that even those from the US side engaged in Afghanistan, have expressed that it is an unending war. This factor is very important for the US to realize. Any miscalculation at this point can make the situation very difficult. It appears to be a time to push dialogue ahead. Pakistan's northern area appearing as a war zone rather than a frontline state should have peace sooner rather than later. This is what the new US government has to realize. Bogged down in Afghanistan and extending the theatre of war with increased tension in Pakistan's northern area could worsen the situation. Some analysts and think tanks are of the view that the old US policy could continue (drone bombings). This could complicate the situation. The US should have to take this issue seriously to bring peace to the region. The acknowledgement by Obama to move to resolve the Kashmir issue is well received by Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership. But the importance of Kashmir does not revolve around bolstering US interest in the war on terror. It is a just cause bearing legality. Analysts have reservations on the appointing of former President Bill Clinton as a special envoy on Kashmir. Analyst Dr. Shireen Mazari reportedly questions saying "He started the strategic dialogue between the US and India, so how can he play an impartial role?" She expressed the view that Obama has no interest in self-determination asking of Kashmiris and wants to see that the US agenda be given full focus in South Asia.' If the Kashmir issue is again pushed back to 'a waiting position', in quest for a solution, it would be a dangerous situation, as all confidence would be lost. President Obama speaks of change, so many 'in a world torn apart' are waiting hopefully. The writer is a freelance journalist E-mail: niazi101pk@yahoo.com

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