Assessing Obama's Affect on Pakistan

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The U.S. military launched another drone missile attack against Taliban targets inside Pakistan not far from the Afghan border. So far, 17 such strikes have been made in Pakistan's border region in the past two months.

Many Pakistanis we talked to are hopeful for the future under president elect Obama. They want an improved relationship with the United States, but they are tired of the cross-border raids from Afghanistan.

This man fears the attacks are just a prelude to a greater American invasion of Pakistani soil.

"The Americans already control Afghanistan," he said. "I fear they'll take over Karachi and Boluchistan."

But how might Barack Obama affect change on the frontline of America's war on terror?

This man believes Obama will take a tough approach against terrorists in the Pakistani tribal regions.

He told us, "Obama is young and aggressive-only 46-years old. His policy will also be aggressive. When he attacks Al Qaeda, he will be more affective."

Others say they aren't expecting any difference.

This man said, "I think American policy will remain basically the same without a big change."

But during his recent visit to Pakistan, General David Petraeus was warned the missile attacks in the Northwest Frontier Province were inflaming anti-American sentiments.

Petraeus made no guarantees to end the strikes.

The U.S. says the missile attacks are necessary because the Pakistani government is either unwilling or unable to stop the Islamic militants from launching cross border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

During the presidential debate in Nashville, Obama suggested he would send U.S. troops into Pakistan to track down Osama Bin Laden. He also suggested he would negotiate with world leaders like Iranian President Ahmadinejad without preconditions.

Might he negotiate with the Taliban and tribal militants in Pakistan's border regions?

Atif Pagaan, Executive Director of the Pakistani human rights foundation Harmony, says it's time to negotiate.

"Attacking them will only kill the people living in the northern areas of Pakistan and maybe some of the terrorists will be killed," he said. After they have shown that they have spread all over the country, now there's no other solution than negotiating with them, talking to them."

And with a wave of terrorist attacks like the recent Marriott Hotel bombing fresh on their minds, Pakistanis, are hoping negotiations will be pursued to halt further violence.

Azhar Ghauri is editor of the daily Asauf newspaper.

He says American backed economic development in the tribal areas will help reduce support for the Taliban and win the hearts and minds of the people…

"Obama should help the masses economically. and not just give money to the Pakistani or Afghan governments. Maybe he can help establish a factory in the tribal regions to create jobs for the people."

And while Pakistanis like this man are happy that Barack Obama was elected. Most are not expecting big changes in America's Pakistan policy anytime soon.

*Original broadcast November 15, 2008.

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