Hedging its bet, Pakistan hobnobs with 'unsavoury characters,' says Obama

President Barack Obama returned to front-foot batting in the ongoing crisis of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, when he said at a White House news conference on Thursday that Islamabad was hedging its bets in terms of the post-drawdown denouement in Afghanistan, in particular by associating with “unsavoury characters.”

In a rare departure, Mr. Obama explicitly alluded to Pakistan's role in its troubled history with India, saying Pakistan saw its “security interest threatened by an independent Afghanistan, in part because they think it will ally itself to India and Pakistan still considers India their mortal enemy.”

“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,” he said.

The comment came a few days after New Delhi and Kabul inked a Strategic Partnership Agreement under which India would likely to take on new responsibilities for training the Afghan National Security Forces.

The President also left little doubt that his comments related directly to the controversy of the last few weeks centred on the alleged ties between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and the dangerous Haqqani network terror group.

Mr. Obama said Pakistan had “hedged [its] 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.”

“There is no doubt that there's some connections the Pakistani military and intelligence services have with certain individuals that we find troubling,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama also underscored several challenging situations facing Pakistan at the moment, including illiteracy, poverty and underdevelopment, and weak civil institutions.

“In that environment, you've seen extremism grow, you've seen militancy that threatens the Pakistani government and Pakistani people as well,” he said, adding, “Trying to get that reorientation is something we continue to work on. It is not easy.”

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 11:39:26 AM |

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