So last week’s poll closed today with interesting results. Of the 64
CHUP! readers who responded to the question, “What do you think is the most immediate concern facing Pakistan?”, 65%
of you answered, ‘security,’ 21%
responded, ‘inflation,’ while only 10%
replied ‘free and fair elections.’ Unfortunately, I am not aware of the ethnographic makeup of those surveyed, but I still feel the results are significant nonetheless. Although there have been very vocal pressures for democracy and elections, I think we all should understand that this battle against Taliban-linked militants is a very real and very near danger, one that should no longer be ignored.Although this blog’s primary focus is the situation in Pakistan, I think it’s hard to avoid the current U.S. presidential race and its potential ramifications for the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations, which in turn could be an enormous impact on the country. The increasingly dire security situation in Pakistan has subsequently caused many candidates to take a stance on the issue. Therefore, I thought it would be timely and significant to poll CHUP! readers on who you feel should be in the White House based on their current foreign policy platform towards Pakistan
. If you have comments on the question, the choices, or the poll, as a whole – please comment! Below, I am pasting the basic points asserted by the current forerunners in the race for the White House, compiled by the Council for Foreign Relations
Senator Hillary Clinton:
Sen. Clinton (D-NY) criticized rival Sen. Barack Obama
(D-IL) in August 2007 for his pledge to pursue Al Qaeda
in Pakistan. She called it “a very big mistake
to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf
regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists who are in bed with Al Qaeda and Taliban.” Clinton foreign policy adviser Lee Feinstein
said in December 2007 that Clinton has “has opposed the Bush administration’s coddling of President Musharraf, and stood steadfastly with the people of Pakistan in their struggle for democracy and against terrorism.”
Senator Barack Obama: Pakistan first achieved notoriety in the presidential campaign in summer 2007 when Obama said he believed the United States should hunt Al Qaeda forces in Pakistan. In November 2007, Obama cosponsored a resolution condemning Musharraf’s imposition of a state of emergency, and calling for an investigation into a prior assassination attempt on Bhutto.
John Edwards: Edwards called Bhutto’s death a “contemptible, cowardly act.” In a phone call with Musharraf shortly after the assassination, Edwards said he urged the Pakistani leader to “continue on the path to democratization” and to allow for international investigators to look into her death. In November 2007, Edwards said the United States should use economic and military aid to Pakistan as leverage to “push Musharraf toward open free elections; toward more democratic reform, to more transparency in the way both the government operates and the economy operates” (NYT).
Mike Huckabee: Huckabee’s response to the Pakistani crisis in late December 2007 raised concern in the media about his foreign policy experience. He made erroneous comments about the country’s state of emergency and the number of Pakistani illegal immigrants in the United States (TIME). In general, Huckabee has said the U.S. “failure to engage Al Qaeda in Pakistan seems to be leading inexorably to their attacking us again.” In his Foreign Affairs article, Huckabee called for a policy of “tough love” toward Pakistan, and said as president he will pursue Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
Sen. John McCain: Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has advocated continued U.S. cooperation with Musharraf to “dismantle the cells and camps that the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintain in his country.” In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, he warned that the “Talibanization of Pakistani society is advancing,” and said the United States should make “a long-term commitment to the country.” This would include bolstering Pakistan’s security capabilities to enhance “Pakistan’s ability to act against insurgent safe havens.” He also said the United States should “bring children into schools and out of extremist madrassas,” though he did not specify how the United States should approach that task.
Romney says the United States should try to bolster moderate forces in Pakistan to prevent “radical jihadists” from taking power.
At an August 2007 Republican debate
, Romney criticized Obama’s plan to enter Pakistan with “actionable intelligence” to pursue al-Qaeda. Obama “says he wants to unilaterally go in and potentially bomb a nation which is our friend,” said Romney. “We’re trying to strengthen Musharraf. We’re trying to strengthen the foundations of democracy and freedom in that country so that they will be able to reject the extremists.”