Obama calls Pakistan’s Zardari, assures support

November 9, 2008

 U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has assured Pakistani President Asif Al Zardari of his support for democracy in the frontline nation during a telephone call on Friday, Pakistan’s official state agency said.



Obama’s conversation was part of a round of phone calls he made to world leaders including Britain, Israel, Japan, Australia, France and Germany, mainly to thank them for their messages of congratulation following his victory.


Pakistan’s The News in a report from Washington said Obama conveyed his full support to help Pakistan overcome its financial difficulties as also face down the threat from militants.


He said he was keen for better ties between the two allies in the war against militancy and to settle differences arising from U.S. missile strikes inside Pakistan, the newspaper said.


The call came days after Pakistan’s leaders told the head of the U.S. central command, General David Petraeus, to stop missile strikes into Pakistan because they were counter-productive and difficult to explain in a democracy..


How will this play out? There are lives involved, and if women and children are going to continue to die in these strikes, the cautious enthusiasm with which  Pakistanis have greeted Obama’s ascent to power will quickly dissipate. 


Obama himself several times during the campaign said that he was willing to strike targets inside Pakistan if Islamabad was unable or unwilling to do so. Will that hold?



Meanwhile over the border in New Delhi, the press at least is working itself up into lather over the Obama phone call that never came.  The idea that the U.S. President-elect called leaders of 15 nations and especially Pakistan, and not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, doesn’t help advance India’s great power ambitions.


But The Times of India quoted an Indian diplomat as saying that New Delhi shouldn’t be over-reacting, arguing that it should consider itself better off that it was “not in the same crisis league”, referring obviously to Pakistan


And in any case, India has cried itself hoarse in the past that U.S. relations with India and Pakistan should not be a zero-sum game. So why this re-hyphenation?




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