Will accord more respect to Pakistan: Romney aide



Washington: In hope of getting more co-operation from Pakistan, a top foreign policy aide to presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said the Republican administration would treat Islamabad with "little bit more respect".

He also expressed concern over the rise of extremism in Pakistan and security of its nuclear weapons.

"On Pakistan, we all know that it is a very difficult challenge. Internally they face many problems. Obviously we are very concerned about the rise of extremists combined with the security of their nuclear weapons," Mitchell B Reiss, a senior foreign policy advisor to Romney, told a group of foreign journalists yesterday.

"They have a part to play in stabilising Afghanistan. So they have a seat at the table and I think, what we can do and the Romney Administration would do to treat them with little bit more respect and hope that we can get a little bit of more cooperation and try and work together to resolve Afghanistan," said Reiss who has served under both the Bush Administration.

Responding to questions on Afghanistan, Reiss refuted the perception that there was no difference between the Obama Administration and the Romney campaign.

"I hear often from many people in the media that there is little difference between the President's policy on Afghanistan and what Governor Romney has said," he said.

"All I can say that people really are not paying a lot of attention; I think the President's policy really was flawed from the start. He questioned the election of Hamid Karzai initially, publicly embarrassed him and then decided after all that we are going to live with the results - really not the beginning of a good working relationship with President Karzai," he noted.

"In December 2009, he put forward a policy for surge, but also linked it with a time table for withdrawal; thereby giving the Taliban absolutely no incentive to come to the negotiating table (not audible)....”

"This past June the President disregarded the advice he got from his top military advisors including General Petraeus and he announced the full withdrawal of the 30,000 surge forces by September of this year; coincidentally right before the election," he said.

“The generals wanted the troops to remain in the country for another fighting season. So I think, there are some fundamental differences in approach in terms of working with Pakistan, in terms of taking closure counsel of the voice given by the generals," he said.

"I also think that this administration has not talked about a post Karzai Afghanistan and again what future destination do we want in Afghanistan.”

"We all know that we do not want it to be a safe haven for terrorist, we do not want it to destabilise Pakistan, but if anything better we aspire to ... Again you haven't heard out of this administration about the elections, about a fair and free representation by the vital candidates.”

"Even accelerating the time table for the next presidential election from 2014 to 2013 when the United States would still have influence in terms of shaping how that election takes place," Reiss said.

"Those are things, I think, you would hear from the Romney Administration - again the goal here is not simply to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan; it is to leave a stable and representative country behind as possible as we can. There is military component to it, there is an economic component to it.”

"There is also a political component to it and you haven't heard anything out of this White House about that and I think, you would hear a lot more from the Romney Administration," the Romney advisor said.

PTI