Mar 29, 2009

Islamabad not happy with Obama strategy

Pakistan has decided to convey its concerns through diplomatic channels over certain aspects of the new policy for the region announced by President Barack Obama on Friday.

’We will speak to them (the United States) on issues of concern in subsequent diplomatic negotiations,’ the President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn on Saturday.

A similar impression was given by senior officials of the foreign office, who said the concerns would not go unnoticed and would be taken up at an ‘appropriate level’.

President Obama had announced several incentives, including an increase in aid to Pakistan, passage of a legislation on the reconstruction opportunity zones and commitment to democracy in the country, but at the same time he was quite ominous in his tone when he categorically said that there would be no ‘blank cheques’ for Pakistan.

Mr Babar said misgivings about Islamabad always existed in Washington’s approach, but the positive elements were new and it was decided that they needed to be hailed.

He denied that the presidency’s position contradicted the thinking in the foreign office, saying the FO was consulted while devising the response.

But sources in the foreign office insisted that the FO’s reaction was mixed, guarded and not effusive. ‘There are pretty big problems in the policy about which our leadership is not speaking, a senior FO official said. Another senior official said there were no consultations with the FO.

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