Militants, not India, Pakistan’s biggest threat: Obama

November 1st, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 1 (IANS) Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has said that the US needs to convince Pakistan’s “fledgling democratic government” that its “biggest threat” is not India but militants within its own borders.”Well, I am concerned about it,” he told CNN in an interview Saturday when asked if he was worried about the stability of Pakistan under its new democratic dispensation with Al Qaeda seemed to be going after the new leadership.

“Now you’ve got a fledgling democratic government (in Pakistan). We have to support their efforts to democratise,” Obama said.

“That means, by the way, not just providing military aid, it means helping them to provide concrete solutions to the poverty and lack of education that exists in Pakistan. So I want to increase non-military aid to Pakistan.

“But we also have to help make the case that the biggest threat to Pakistan right now is not India, which has been their historical enemy, it is actually militants within their own borders.

“And if we can get them to refocus on that, then that is going to be critical to our success not just in stabilising Pakistan but also in finishing the job in Afghanistan,” he said.

“This was one of the problems with our previous strategy where there was a lot of resentment that built up as a consequence of our support of President (Pervez) Musharraf there who had squelched democracy,” he said.

About Afghanistan, Obama said: “We’re still going to have expenditures” there “because we need to hunt down (Osama) bin Laden and Al Qaeda and put them finally out of business.”

About Iraq, he said winding up the war there could result in savings of about $12 billion, but it is not going to come straightaway.

“The war in Iraq, we can achieve some significant savings. It’s not going to come immediately. I’ve said I want a responsible drawdown. We’re still going to have to refit our military. We’re still going to have to deal with rising veterans’ costs,” he said

“My hope is that we draw down that money over time, it’s drastically reduced. But the point is that we’re not going to be able to take that $12 billion and suddenly automatically apply it all to domestic stuff. We’ve got to take care of our troops,” he said.

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