Obama Re-elected! Yay or nay for Pakistanis?

Nov 23, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: The Diplomat

What does Obama’s re-election mean for us? Nothing.Absolutely nothing at all. It’s like re-running a movie like Thor: it’s drab and dull each time, but you’re forced to watch it because nothing else is on TV. You have no choice, and you’ve just got to deal with it.

What would have Romney’s election meant for us? Nothing again. Their foreign policies are starkly similar, with a few subtle differences and it is hilarious to hear that apparently (according to some newspaper survey), Pakistanis preferred Romney over Obama. As expected, this country’s voting tendencies make no rational sense, and only show the absolute ignorance of the masses. Myth-shattering time!

The one thing that unifies all Pakistanis together is their collective condemnation of drone attacks by ‘foreign enemies’, because domestic problems are obviously not pressing or urgent enough. Anyway, the foremost change most Pakistanis want to see in the US foreign policy is an end to indiscriminate drone attacks, which can apparently only happen if Obama is replaced, perhaps by the altruistic, humanitarian Mitt Romney. For many voters, Romney meant change and change meant an end to drone assaults.

Ironically, Romney has been a strong advocate of the use of drone attacks, claiming that Pakistan has four pivots of power: the government, the ISI, the military and the fundamentalists – all disparate, disunited groups. Asserting that this disparity is a clear indicator of political turmoil, Romney announced that deploying US troops onto Pakistani soil may be highly ‘incendiary’ for the masses but the Pakistanis are ‘comfortable’ with the use of US drone attacks against quarries. This supports the possibility that Romney might actually condone a land invasion but the only barrier that hinders such a Republican policy is an extreme public backlash by the Pakistanis. Furthermore, it substantiates the fact that Romney explicitly approves the consistent and lax use of drone attacks on Pakistani territory. Romney is clear and confident about a policy that Obama rarely speaks about in public. Clearly, the voters voted for Romney only because they didn’t want to vote for Obama, but they lose out either way.

Although at times disturbing, the Pakistani (a huge group of people) hatred for Israel is an undeniable reality, primarily because of the Palestinian crisis. Obama’s relationship with Israel has been shaky – on 19 May 2011, Obama stated, “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” At this point, Obama committed a grave diplomatic blunder by saying that the Palestinian areas should be returned to the 1967 borders; he later reneged on his statement due to Israeli pressure. Romney, on the other hand, has been an unconditional supporter of the Israeli regime and Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his desire to see Romney in power. It could be inferred that Obama would be far more committed to solving or at the very least, mitigating the Palestinian crisis than Romney. Completely setting aside the justification of this hatred for Israel, I am just surprised by the inexplicable voting impulses of this country.

Amusingly, Romney also attacked his own government for “diminishing American leadership” in the international arena and said that he would advance American leadership and power to “shape history.” Like the USA hasn’t done that already in a highly uni-polar world for the past 20 years? Such statements by Obama about apparent ‘western imperialism’ normally set off alarm bells in our country. Clearly, Romney’s motives are no different.

“Obama’s re-election: Primarily, it means the continuation of drone strikes in our tribal areas which will continue to strain relations between both countries. It would be interesting to see how Obama re-evaluates US relations with Pakistan, in the wake of the 2014 Afghan troop pull-out. There may be a change in policy i.e. more affable relations from his side, because the troop pull-out and the stabilization of Afghanistan will only be successful with Pakistan’s co-operation.

As an ardent Obama supporter, I think Romney would not have been better and was glad that he wasn’t elected. The foreign policy debate showed us that he has a very archaic, Reagan-era worldview, and I’m not comfortable with the imposition of this worldview, as i don’t think he would have been able to flexibly adapt to the changing Geo-political dynamics.

Also he is so much more inclined to change his stance that by the end, he himself wasn’t sure of it. I’m not comfortable with such a fickle leader in power.

I also think Romney wouldn’t have been able to deal with the “fiscal cliff” as well as Obama, resulting in a slump in America. This would affect the entire global economy so Pakistan would be more exposed to economic harm if Romney was in office. Why would he not be able to deal with it? Unsustainable defense spending and his unwillingness to raise taxes and increase public spending which would provide crucial stimulus,” affirms Rafae Ghani of Karachi Grammar School.

While Obama’s re-election brings nothing positive, it at least maintains the status quo. The current Pak-US alliance is a ‘troubled marriage’ but a marriage nonetheless. A Romney government will have to start from scratch and recreate its first-hand diplomatic ties with the Pakistani government, an effort doomed to fail at a point when Pak-US relations are down in the ditches. Romney’s election would have only been for the worse. Clearly, change isn’t always good.

The Author

I have an avid interest in international politics, disparate global perspectives, human social and economic evolution, cultural diversity and how all these ideas tie together with Pakistan's current scenario. I believe in a secular, culturally integrated and stable Pakistan, and I hope to work towards the materialization of this dream.

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1 Comment + Add Comment

  • very interesting and descriptive article….very good work

Keep the discussions clean and productive.

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