Pakistan on Obama: Hope and Trepidation

Pakistan’s president, Asaf Ali Zardari, and its prime minister Sayyid Raza Yusuf Gilani, gave a warm welcome to Barack Obama as US president. They recently maneuvered military dictator Pervez Musharraf out of office, despite support for him from the Bush White House and much of the Republican Party Establishment, including John McCain. Obama has differed from the latter in welcoming a return to civilian democracy in Pakistan, raising hopes in Islamabad that Washington might finally abandon its long tradition of coddling dictators such as Musharraf.

The English-speaking Pakistani press viewed Barack Obama’s election positively, though they had reservations about the belligerency of his commitment to a unilateral American air strike on al-Qaeda positions inside Pakistan.

Dawn (Karachi) wrote:

‘Putting a black man in the White House is a staggering achievement for America where millions of voters chose this year to look at the person, not his race. This wholehearted embrace of multiculturalism will also lift America’s battered image abroad and tell the world that better things may — and that’s a big may, admittedly — be expected of a superpower that has ridden roughshod over real and imagined adversaries in the last eight years when intellect and the White House became mutually exclusive. George W. Bush’s utterances may have been a source of amusement abroad but were also a source of shame for educated Americans. . .

The world awaits how America will reposition itself — or not. Here in Pakistan, Mr Obama’s earlier take on the issue of militancy was sometimes seen as somewhat short-sighted and belligerent. The US certainly cannot go it alone without the support of Pakistan (that is a reality that America must acknowledge publicly if it is an honest broker). But Pakistan too has to understand that a different mood now prevails in Washington. There will be a clear tendency on the part of our patrons to pour money into democracy as opposed to autocracy.’

Aljazeera English reports on the cautious or anxious response of the Pakistani public to Obama’s election to the US presidency.

Kashmiri leaders said that they hoped Obama would follow through on his stated commitment to resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, which has been at the heart of several wars between the two countries.

Here are some Obama quotes on India.

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