Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Obama Administration’
The entire, almost the entire, international community has been expressing grave concerns about the economic stability of Pakistan. From the U.S. Congress to Friends of Pakistan, aid and assistance plans are being discussed and approved to keep Pakistan’s economy afloat. Earlier this week the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously for tripling non-military aid to Pakistan to 7.5 billions over next five years. In the midst of all the “genuine” concern to address Pakistan’s economic woes, there has been almost no official response to or media coverage of Pakistan’s Budget presented before the National Assembly on 13 June. I understand that decisions about the Budget is the prerogative of the national governments, but given the fact that so much money is being poured into Pakistan by the international community in midst of a global financial crisis makes some knowledge about the country’s budget important.
Pakistan made history with this Budget. This statement has nothing to do with the substance of the budget proposals; it had more to do with form. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the Budget was presented by a female Minister of the Government - Hina Rabbani Khar (Pakistan’s State Minister for Economic Affairs).
President Obama’s Cairo moment was anxiously awaited around the globe. Anticipations about President Obama’s speech had dominated the international media for the past week and managed to wrestle the headlines from the striking Tiananmen Square commemorations. The content of the speech will continue to be analyzed by scores of scholars across the globe for days to come. But what were the immediate responses of the common people and political leadership to President Obama’s speech? Here are a few reactions.
From taxi drivers to high-ranking bureaucrats; from university students to renowned political analysts, everyone in the Arab and Muslim world seems to be waiting for June 4 – the day when President Obama is expected to address the Muslim world. Student exams scheduled for June 4th have been postponed at the Cairo University, the venue for President Obama’s speech. This is not the first time that President Obama would approach the followers of Islamic faith with the objective of clarifying the U.S. policy towards the ‘Muslim world’. Since the inception of his term, President Obama is attempting to re-define America’s diplomatic outreach in an effort to reverse the tide of anti-Americanism among the Muslims across the world. So what makes the June 4th speech so special? To me it’s the burden of expectations. From open letters in leading newspapers of Egypt to op-eds by scholars of international affairs everyone has a list of dos and don’ts for President Obama. Though we cannot appropriately anticipate what President Obama will say we can examine what the Arab and Muslim world expects him to say.
[AP Photo/Ben Curtis]
As the AFPAK strategy session concluded in Washington arguments for and against providing aid to Pakistan dominated the op-ed columns and the blogosphere. The U.S. cannot deprive Pakistan of essential aid because there are fears that the Country might collapse. At the same time U.S. aid will not solve most of Pakistan’s problems. So what should the Obama Administration do? Can the U.S. merely feel sorry for the state of affairs in Pakistan or should the challenges facing the Pakistan be recognized and a cooperative counter-Taliban effort be continued? Or should the U.S. rationalize in terms of delineating the respective responsibilities of the Pakistani Government and the international community? Click to continue…
Two important developments in the recent days are hinting at real changes in the U.S. national security approach. President Obama’s promise of change is proving not to be mere rhetoric; concrete policy proposals are being discussed for transforming the security apparatus and approach of the U.S.
There is a recent and overwhelming influx of the term “AFPAK” in jargon of international relations. The term owes it origin to the new policy approach adopted by the Obama Administration. The intragency review of the international strategy in Afghanistan headed by Bruce Riedel concluded that the counter-terrorism efforts need to focus on the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. So now we have the AfPak war. Though President Obama’s intentions can barely be doubted there are some serious concerns that the U.S. will have to contend with in dealing with “AFPAK”.
[Photo Courtesy: Reuters/Jason Reed] Click to continue…
Terrorism is as much detested by the majority of the global Muslim population as is U.S. troop presence in Muslim countries. A recent study of public opinion in predominantly Muslim countries reveals that the population is widely opposed to the use of violence for religious purposes. However, they endorse the Al-Qaeda’s mission to expel U.S. forces and bases from territory of Muslim countries. Here are few interesting figures from the Survey:
Across eight Muslim publics on average, 66% considered the presence of U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf as a bad idea. The opposition is largest in Egypt (91%) but also considerable in the NATO member state of Turkey (77%)
From 87% (Egypt) to 62% (Indonesia) of the population believes that the U.S. seeks to weaken and divide the Islamic world.
Widespread support for involvement of Islamic parties and groups in national politics: 83% in Pakistan, 81% in Indonesia, 53% in Turkey, 50% in Jordan.
55% in Pakistan and 84% in Egypt disapproved of attacks on civilians in the U.S.
Significant numbers approved of attacks on U.S. troops based in Muslim countries: 83% of the Egyptians approved of the attacks on U.S. in Iraq.
According to 36% in Pakistan and 59% in Azerbaijan, the U.s. favors democracy only if the government is cooperative.
Highlighting the general views towards the U.S. the Survey concludes:
Views of the US government continue to be quite negative. The US is widely seen as hypocritically failing to abide by international law, not living up to the role it should play in world affairs, disrespectful of the Muslim people, and using its power in a coercive and unfair fashion.
It is interesting to note that some the most negative responses towards the U.S. have come from countries that are not traditionally considered threatening. This highlights the fact that despite cordial political relations, the Muslim population in many countries is opposed to the U.S. foreign policy strategies. Some of these figure and responses might help the Obama Administration in refurbishing the U.S. policy towards the Muslim world.
The Indian media through most of last week was buzzing with reports that President Obama’s proposed Budget has increased military aid to Pakistan. The Economic Times reported on “Huge increases in US military aid to Pakistan”; The Hindu carried an article under the heading “U.S. to increase military aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan”; NDTV ran a commentary on “Obama proposes more military aid to Pakistan”; The Hindustan Times declared “Obama proposes more military aid to Pakistan.”
This news piece emerges from distortion of facts and leads to misinterpretation of President Obama’s policy in South Asia. If you Google the words ‘Obama, Budget, Pakistan, Funding’, in the search results no news agency barring the Indian media carries such assertions. If you get an opportunity to read President Obama’s proposed Budget, you will not find any references to ‘enhanced military aid to Pakistan’. The Budget proposes two complimentary strategies in South Asia, which have been be interpreted by the fancies of the Indian media to provide misleading information. Firstly, the Obama Administration proposes to increase non-military funding to Pakistan. In meeting the U.S. challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the President proposes to increase funding for governance, reconstruction, counter-narcotics and other development activities. Under the proposed scheme the number of U.S. civilian personnel in two countries would be increased. Secondly the Budget includes $75.5 billion in supplemental appropriations for 2009 and $ 130 billion for 2010 to support ongoing overseas contingency operations, including efforts in Afghanistan and drawing down troops from Iraq responsibly. Since Pakistan has been recognized as vital for ensuring regional security, it can be assumed that a portion of the supplemental appropriations could be provided for Pakistan; but this is an assumption and not a stated policy of the U.S.
India’s political class has for long viewed global politics through the prism of Pakistan, it’s sad that the media has compromised responsible journalism for assuming the mantel of Pakistan bashing. Pakistan has enough failings of its own, imaginary additions are simply unnecessary.
Shuja Nawaz, in a commentary on PostGlobal makes suggestions for altering the conduct of U.S. policy with regard to Pakistan. His analysis overlooks some important facts which would continue to dictate relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. Counter-View explores some of the flaws in the commentary.