Washington, May 13 (IANS) President Barack Obama believes that after years of looking at their main rival India as their only concern, Pakistan has finally come to realise that the cancer of terrorism threatens Pakistan’s sovereignty.
‘I think there has been in the past a view on the part of Pakistan that their primary rival, India, was their only concern,’ he said Wednesday at a joint press appearance with the visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in response to a question by an Afghan journalist about Pakistan’s unhelpful attitude towards Afghanistan.
‘I think what you’ve seen over the last several months is a growing recognition that they have a cancer in their midst; that the extremist organizations that have been allowed to congregate and use as a base the frontier areas to then go into Afghanistan, that that now threatens Pakistan ‘s sovereignty.’
Obama said he and Karzai had in the past, met with Pakistan President Asif Ali ‘Zardari, as well as their intelligence officers, their military, their teams, and emphasised to Pakistan the fact that our security is intertwined.’
‘Our goal is to break down some of the old suspicions and the old bad habits and continue to work with the Pakistani government to see their interest in a stable Afghanistan which is free from foreign meddling,’ he said.
‘Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, the international community, should all be working to reduce the influence of extremists in those regions, Obama said. ‘And I am actually encouraged by what I’ve seen from the Pakistani government over the last several months.’
‘But just as it’s going to take some time for Afghanistan’s economy, for example, to fully recover from 30 years of war, it’s going to take some time for Pakistan, even where there is a will, to find a way in order to effectively deal with these extremists in areas that are fairly loosely governed from Islamabad,’ Obama said.
Praising recent steps taken by Pakistan to take on militants, he said: ‘Part of what I’ve been encouraged by is Pakistan’s willingness to start asserting more control over some of these areas.
‘But it’s not going to happen overnight,’ he acknowledged. ‘And they have been taking enormous casualties; the Pakistani military has been going in fairly aggressively. But this will be a ongoing project.’
During a 45 minute meeting in the Oval Office, Obama said he and Karzai ‘both discussed the fact that the only way, ultimately, that Pakistan is secure is if Afghanistan is secure.
‘And the only way that Afghanistan is secure is if the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, the Afghan constitution,
the Afghan people are respected by their neighbours.
‘We think that that message is starting to get through, but it’s one that we have to continue to promote,’ Obama said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)