ISLAMABAD: Barack Obama's victory fostered hopes in Pakistan that the United States would become less overbearing towards its ally in the war on terrorism, and nurture the country's recent return to civilian-led democracy. “I think he will understand that the use of brute force alone creates more enemies and widens the zone of conflict,” Talat...
ISLAMABAD: Barack Obama's victory
fostered hopes in Pakistan that the United States would become
less overbearing towards its ally in the war on terrorism, and
nurture the country's recent return to civilian-led democracy.
“I think he will understand that the use of brute force
alone creates more enemies and widens the zone of conflict,”
Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general turned analyst, said.
“I think he will put greater emphasis on developing
civilian capacities,” he added, pointing to a bill proposed by
Obama's Vice President-elect Joe Biden to provide Pakistan with
a multi-billion dollar “democracy dividend” package.
Under Pakistan's previous leader, former army chief Pervez
Musharraf, most U.S. aid went to Pakistan's military. Musharraf
quit in August, and his successor, President Asif Ali Zardari,
has inherited an economy in danger of meltdown.
Relations between the United States and nuclear-armed Pakistan
have been strained by a series of cross-border U.S. strikes,
most by missile-firing pilotless drone aircraft, on militant
targets in Pakistan.
The strikes have hardened anti-American sentiment in
Pakistan at a time when the coalition government is trying to
build popular support for its own campaign against Islamist
Samina Ahmed, South Asia project director for International
Crisis Group, believed Obama's victory would lead to a
make-over for the United State's image.
“Obama's victory will restore not just the faith of
Americans in their democracy, but the world's faith in American
democracy,” she said.
“Obama and his party will employ a policy of international
engagement that is based on consultation and not intimidation.”
Widely regarded as the hiding place for Osama bin Laden,
Pakistan is seen as vital to bringing stability to neighbouring
Afghanistan and defeating al Qaeda.
Former Pakistani foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed Khan said
Pakistan would remain in the “eye of the storm, but he expected
a more nuanced U.S. approach to its ally: “Democrats have
always behaved with restraint and engagement.”
While campaigning Obama said he would authorise strikes
against militant targets in Pakistan, if the Pakistani
government failed or was unable to act itself.
His rival, John McCain, didn't rule that out but said a
U.S. leader should not say things out loud.
Mahmood Shah, a former security chief in Pakistan's
violence-plagued tribal lands on the Afghan border, foresaw
Obama showing “more moderation” once he was in office.
But ordinary Pakistanis were sceptical.
“It doesn't make any difference if Obama or anybody else
has won because they have same anti-Muslim, anti-Islam
policies. We shouldn't be happy just because there's a change
of face,” said Hafiz Mohammad Ashraf, 26, an electrician in the
city of Multan.
“I'll be happy if he ends Bush's wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan and stops killing Muslims.”