US under Obama Will Have Better Ties with Pakistan
September 23, 2008
By attacking the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, al-Qaeda has warned the new government of Pakistan against its participation in the US-led War on Terror, says Ishtiaq Ahmad, an associate professor of International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad and a leading Pakistani commentator.

However, he adds that, despite such warning, counter-terror ties between the two countries are likely to grow. “In fact, the United States under the largely expected Democratic presidency of Barack Obama will have better ties with Pakistan,” he said.

In an interview with Fars, the Iranian International Persian News Service, on September 23, the Pakistani academic said that President Zardari was currently visiting the United States to participate in the annual UN General Assembly session. This visit is important in terms of removing misunderstandings between the two countries and promoting their relations with reference to the War on Terror.

“However, the new leadership in Pakistan is eying upon the outcome of US presidential elections. The victory of the Democratic Party in these elections will be important for Pakistan’s new democratic leadership, as Barack Obama will be more supportive of Pakistani government’s comprehensive approach, inclusive of all sorts of military and non-military means, to wipe out against terrorism.”

Ahmad said for the last two years, Pakistan has witnessed a number of suicide bombings, one of which claimed the life of Benazir Bhutto. “These terrorist activities are well planned and executed, a task that only an organized network of terrorists such as al-Qaeda can manage. This means that al-Qaeda is taking more ground and momentum in the strife-torn regions of the country.”

He said that terrorists carefully chose the Marriott hotel as their target, because it is located next to the centres of power in Pakistan, including the Presidency and the Parliament. This hotel was the popular venue for both diplomats and local and foreign dignitaries. “By attacking it, al-Qaeda has sent a message that it can conduct terrorist act anywhere and at anytime in the heart of Pakistan’s political power.” This message, Ahmad said, should be taken very seriously by the government.

He also said that the reason terrorists chose the Marriott Hotel as their target was because “they want to kill as many people as possible so that the country becomes more insecure and anarchic. Only a terror network like al-Qaeda, he added, could benefit from more insecurity and greater anarchy in Pakistan.”

As for the reasons for this attack, he said that the previous regime of General Musharraf, which ruled for nearly nine years, was popularly perceived at home to be serving US interests. “Al-Qaeda is also against all countries cooperating with the United States in its War on Terror. People in the tribal belt believe that the current government is an extension of Musharraf and following in the footsteps of General Musharraf as far as Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror is concerned. “

He said that both the civilian and military leaders have unanimity of view on the threat from terrorists. Therefore, on the issue of managing this threat, “we cannot expect a conflict of interests between the democratic government and the army, with the latter also declaring publicly its intention not to intervene in the country’s politics. Both equally feel that the war Pakistan is fighting now is its own war, and not America’s war, and, therefore, it makes sense to fight the terrorists more vigorously in the tribal eras."

He said the new government because of its democratic roots is committed to fight against terrorists, “because the latter’s primary target are also innocent people. However, what is lacking here is an effective, well-chalked out action plan, which the government has to come up withy without wasting any time."

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