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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pakistan and the Presidential candidates

Barack Obama threatened to attack Pakistan on August 1, 2007:
As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.
To an AP reporter, Obama initially implied that nuclear weapons would not be used against Pakistan -- but he quickly clarified that he was not "going that far afield."

Allegedly, Hillary Clinton told the National Association of Pakistani Americans (NAPA) that she would not attack Pakistan unilaterally with U.S. troops. This is from Dawn (which calls itself "Pakistan's most widely circulated English language newspaper") on July 27:
US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said if America sends its troops to the tribal region, they should go with Pakistani troops and not on their own.

At a fund-raising dinner arranged for her by the National Association of Pakistani-Americans, she rejected the suggestion by some US officials and lawmakers that the United States should conduct unilateral military operations in the tribal region to destroy alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens.

Such a move, she said, would not produce the desired results and would create new problems. Only a combined effort by the Pakistani and US troops could destroy militant hideouts in the area, she added.
NAPA does not seem to have a web presence and I cannot find the original source for this quote.

In fact, some sources are reporting that Clinton seems to agree with Obama. This is from the August 2 Des Moines Register.
"I've long believed that we needed tougher, smarter action against terrorists by deploying more troops to Afghanistan, and if we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan, I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured. And that will be my highest priority because they pose the highest threat to America," she said Wednesday in an interview with American Urban Radio News Networks.
Generally, the Democrat candidates appear to be united in this election cycle -- the real war on terror should be targeted at al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They want the US to withdraw from Iraq and change the focus of the fight.

What about the Republicans? What are they saying about Pakistan?

Mitt Romney, in the Boston Globe, August 5, specifically criticized Obama's widely quoted speech:
"We want as a civilized world to participate with other nations in this civilized effort to help those nations reject the extreme within them," Romney said. "That doesn't mean that our troops are going to go all over the world."

Romney said the remarks were not helpful to the American effort.

"I think his comments were ill-timed and ill-considered," Romney said.
"He’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr Strangelove in one week," added Romney.

According to that last linked Reuters stiry, Rudy Giuliani seems to agree with Obama, while John McCain is critical.

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