Senate of Pakistan

Opportunity of course-correction for US: Mushahid

Opportunity of course-correction for US: Mushahid
November 14, 2012

Islamabad - "Now is the time for President Obama to correct the course of flawed U.S. policy towards Pakistan, as he does not have to worry about re-election," said Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, at a roundtable organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) here on Tuesday.

Senator Mushahid Hussain maintained that president Obama was re-elected at a time of declining international political clout of the U.S. He argued that president Obama won re-election despite strong and vocal opposition from Israel, which, he added, was unusual.

He hoped that president Obama would rectify the mistakes of the first term without having to worry about re-election to the office.

He added that there were many flaws in U.S. policy towards Pakistan in the first term of president Obama such as misuse of the drone technology, wanting Pakistan to facilitate negotiations with the Taliban on the one hand and asking it to launch operations against them on the other, and trying to bypass Pakistan in reaching out to Taliban leadership for talks etc.

Senator Mushahid Hussain maintained that Pakistan would expect the new Obama administration to halt the drone attacks, which, he argued, were a violation of the international law and a cause of deaths of the civilians. He added that Pakistan would also want the U.S. to include Pakistan in any reconciliation process in Afghanistan, and that Pakistan would expect the U.S. to resolve its problems with Iran diplomatically.

Senator Mushahid Hussain maintained, however, that Pakistan will also have to be more firm in its opposition to drone attacks. He added that the Americans are capable of course-corrections and that President Obama would be bolder in his second term in the office.

Responding to a question about evolving Pak-Russia relations, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that a shift was evident but that Pakistan will have to assure Russia, and even China, that its territory would not be used by terrorists operating in Dagestan region of Russia or Xinjiang province of China.

“We can no longer hide behind the ‘ungoverned space’ argument. The government of Pakistan will have to establish the writ of the state in ungoverned spaces, if those are used against other countries by elements residing there,” he said. He maintained that Pakistan lacked a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy.

Talking about the domestic situation in Pakistan, Senator Mushahid Hussain argued that dynamism was visible in Pakistan. He maintained that power had gotten diffused into multiple centers of power like the executive, the judiciary, the legislature, the media, the military, and even the civil society.

He added that Pakistan is the freest Muslim democracy of the world where there is vocal media and open civil society. Expressing his confidence in the exuberance of the civil society in Pakistan, Senator Mushahid Hussain said, “Sometimes the political elite of Pakistan appear out of sync with the fast pace of the developing civil society in Pakistan.” He added that smooth transition from one civilian government to another after completion of the full-term of the first would be a milestone in Pakistan’s political history.

Other participants of the roundtable included: Mr. Ashraf Azim, President IRS; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Saleem Haider; Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Executive Director of Center for International Strategic Studies; Syed Moazzam Hashmi; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency; Mr. Gilles Bourbao, Deputy Head of the Mission of the Embassy of France, and researchers from IRS.


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