Washington: In a lengthy pep-talk to
Pakistan, US President Barack Obama has asked it not to view
India as its "mortal enemy", shed its Afghan-India paranoia
and realise that a "peaceful approach" towards New Delhi would
be in everybody`s interests.
"They see their security interests threatened by an
independent Afghanistan in part because they think it will
ally itself to India, and Pakistan still considers India their
mortal enemy," Obama said yesterday at a press conference at
the East Room of the White House.
"Part of what we want to do is actually get Pakistan to
realise that a peaceful approach towards India would be in
everybody`s interests, and would help Pakistan actually
develop...," he said.
Obama`s remarks came when he was asked whether he agreed
with his former top military commander Mike Mullen`s
accusations that Pakistan`s ISI has used the Haqqani network
as a veritable arm.
The US President noted that one of the biggest problems
facing Pakistan right now were poverty, illiteracy, a lack of
development, civil institutions that are not strong enough to
deliver for the Pakistani people.
"And in that environment you`ve seen extremism grow.
You`ve seen militancy grow that doesn`t just threaten our
efforts in Afghanistan but also threatens the Pakistani
government and the Pakistani people as well," he said.
"So trying to get that reorientation is something that
we`re continuing to work on; it`s not easy," he said.
Obama said his administration will constantly evaluate
its ties with Pakistan but warned that he will not be feeling
comfortable with a long-term strategic relationship with
Islamabad if it was not mindful of American interest as well.
"We will constantly evaluate our relationship with
Pakistan based on, is, overall, this helping to protect
Americans and our interests. We have a great desire to help
the Pakistani people strengthen their own society and their
own government," he said.
Obama said he would be hesitant to punish aid for flood
victims in Pakistan because of "poor decisions" by Pakistani
intelligence services. "But there is no doubt that we`re not
going to feel comfortable with a long-term strategic
relationship with Pakistan if we don`t think that they`re
mindful of our interest as well," he said.
With regard to Pakistan, Obama said that his No.1 goal
was to make sure that al Qaeda would not be able to attack
America and its interests worldwide.
"I have said that my number-one goal is to make sure
that al Qaeda cannot attack the US homeland and cannot affect
US interests around the world. And we have done an outstanding
job, I think, in going after, directly, al Qaeda in this
border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said.
Though he took note of Pakistan`s cooperation on a
whole range of issues, he also pointed out the links between
Islamabad and "unsavoury characters".
Obama said: "What is also true is that our goal of being
able to transition out of Afghanistan and leave a stable
government behind -- one that is independent, one that is
respectful of human rights, one that is democratic -- that
Pakistan, I think, has been more ambivalent about some of our
"And I think that they have hedged their bets, in terms
of what Afghanistan would look like. And part of hedging their
bets is having interactions with some of the unsavoury
characters who they think might end up regaining power in
Afghanistan after coalition forces have left."
The US has tried to persuade Pakistan that it
is in their interest to have a stable Afghanistan and that
they should not be feeling threatened by a stable, independent
Afghanistan, Obama said.
"We`ve tried to get conversations between Afghans and
Pakistanis going more effectively than they have been in the
past, but we`ve still got more work to do.
"And there is no doubt that there is some connections
that the Pakistani military and intelligence services have
with certain individuals that we find troubling. And I`ve said
that publicly, and I`ve said it privately to Pakistani
officials as well," the US President said.