On Tuesday, November 4, Americans will vote in a historic presidential election that has ignited not just the country, but the entire world. Although the U.S. media has obviously focused heavily on this election, it has also been widely covered by international news agencies. In fact, according to a BBC World Service poll released last month, which surveyed people in 22 countries around the world, Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama was universally preferred over Republican nominee Senator John McCain. On average, 49 percent would like to see Obama prevail, while only 12 percent prefer McCain. Many of those polled said an Obama presidency would “fundamentally change” their perception of the United States. Regardless of whether or not that will truly occur if he is elected, such reasoning is still notable.
In Pakistan, such a preference seems to hold true, but is nevertheless complicated by statements made by the Democratic senator in the past year, [see related CHUP backgrounder]. However, despite his more hawkish assertions regarding Pakistan, [namely him saying that if the United States has Osama bin Laden in their sight and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to take him out, America will take him out], he has indicated his support for Pakistan’s democracy and for a dramatic increase in non-military aid. In an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, Obama asserted, “We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focussed not on India, but on the situation with those militants.” Dawn cited the interview on Monday, noting that Obama emphasized, “The most important thing we’re going to have to do with respect to Afghanistan is actually deal with Pakistan. And we’ve got to work with the newly elected government there in a coherent way that says terrorism is now a threat to you. Extremism is a threat to you.”
As U.S. attention has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan has increasingly come into the spotlight, and without a doubt has been a hot topic in the 2008 elections, [see CHUP’s coverage of the presidential and VP debates]. As a result, the U.S. elections have been widely covered in Pakistan. An editorial in The News noted today,
Obama has not repeated his threat of attacks on Pakistan. But he has spoken of targeting Osama bin Laden, and taking him ‘dead or alive’. The bullish element in the Obama mix as such stays intact, but given that he has also mentioned closing down the notorious Guantanamo Bay jail, his policies may well offer more that is good than bad.
The editors in Dawn’s Tuesday edition commented on Obama’s recent statements on Kashmir, noting, “By focusing on Kashmir, Mr. Obama has indicated that he understands the dynamics of international politics in South Asia.” Although The Nation’s editorial echoed that the Democratic nominee’s Kashmir statements have “inspired hope,” the news agency ultimately noted, “Whether the new President will come up to the expectations will become clear once he is in the saddle. The world will therefore have to wait for a few more months.”
Currently Obama leads McCain in the national polls – the Washington Post/ABC News poll, 53% to 44%, CBS News a nine-point advantage, 51% to 42%, while Fox News reports that he is seven points ahead, 50% to 43%. However, while many media outlets have already called the election in favor of Obama, I believe nothing is certain until the last votes are counted tomorrow. Therefore, stay tuned – CHUP will be updating this site as the results come in tomorrow evening, EST. [Image from GEO News]