McCain, Obama differ over policy on Pakistan in first US presidential debate

September 28th, 2008 - 3:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

New York, Sep 28 (ANI): US presidential candidates Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama differed on Pakistan, especially over US attacks into Pakistani territory, a policy that Islamabad had sharply protested.

During the first of a series of televised debates ahead of the November election, McCain emphasized the need for Pakistans support said, he would not publicly state a policy of attacking militants in Pakistan, saying Pakistani support Democratic rival, Obama, responded that the United States should attack militants if Pakistan were unwilling to do so highlighting a difference over Pakistan policy.

In the debate held at Oxford, Mississippi, Obama said 10 billion dollars in aid to the Pakistan government over the last seven years had failed to rid the border region of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

If the United States has al Qaeda, (Osama) bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out, he said.

McCain called for a quiet policy.

You dont say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government, he said.

He said support from the Pakistani people was necessary. He cautioned that newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari has his hands full and said, This area on the border has not been governed since the days of Alexander the Great.

Im not prepared at this time to cut off aid to Pakistan, he said.

The debate also saw a little role reversal. It was Obama who seemed more aligned with President George W. Bushs current policy of authorizing American Special Forces to cross the Afghan-Pakistan border into Pakistans tribal areas.

In one of the more heated moments of the debate, Obama argued that he would take the war to Osama bin Ladens cave door, whether Pakistan cooperated or not. And it was McCain, who argued that without Pakistans cooperation, any such operation was doomed.

At its core, the candidates argument is about the central front in the war on terrorism. Obama said it was, and always has been, Pakistans tribal areas and the neighboring areas of Afghanistan. (ANI)

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