Stories about Obama

Afghans point finger at US: Who’s corrupt now?

Many Afghans, from government officials and parliamentarians to the common man are disgruntled with the US officials relentlessly accusing them of being corrupt – while ignoring their own government’s fraud and misappropriations in the $56 billion development budget approved by the Congress for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghans deem US responsible for corrupting their society. For Obama’s administration, ‘corruption warnings’ are a new blackmail tool to use against the Karzai government. There has been constant rhetoric to “eradicate corruption” and “stop misusing US tax payers’ money,” without realising that only 20% of the allocated funds are at the disposal of ...

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US unhappy with political game of Obama’s Asia tour

I want to write about Obama’s Asian tour, but I keep realising that I’m stupefied by the complexity and the pageantry of it all. From America’s view, South Asia is a diplomatic cesspool, confounded by the fact that much of this uncertainty stems from our own past and present policies. When Obama returns to the White House, he will have visited five countries—Japan, Singapore, South Korea, China and Indonesia. But, barring the G20 Summit, the bulk of press coverage will focus on two of those countries—Indonesia, because of Obama’s personal connection, and India—as well as another country not on the ...

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Kabul diary: The blind leading the blind

In late January 2009, General Petraeus approached one of his team members for an update on the ongoing Afghanistan strategy review and received the unexpected analysis: “It is the blind leading the blind,” said  Derek Harvey, from the Defence Intelligence Agency. He further told Petraeus that “we know too little about the enemy to craft a winning strategy.” It is baffling that even after 10 years of engaging in the world’s longest war, involving 43 countries with about 140,000 troops, losing soldiers each day and squandering huge resources, the US is still finding answers to the basic questions: What is the ...

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Obama is not a balm for India

It’s festival season in India, with Diwali, the festival of lights, just round the corner. This year, the annual event seems to be overshadowed  by the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama. I don’t remember this kind of excitement occurring with regard to a visit by any other foreign head of state. Today, no news bulletin is complete unless there is some mention of Uncle Sam. Both Hindi and English  newspapers are full of stories describing not only the political significance of the trip, but also bits of Obama’s schedule. We know where he will be staying, what he ...

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Obama’s Wars: Exposing Pakistan’s demons

Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars” has opened a Pandora ’s box of controversy. The government’s rebuttals notwithstanding, Ambassador Hussain Haqqani’s comparison of Pakistan to a woman eager to be wooed, President Zardari’s astounding query about possible US support for the Pakistani Taliban and the portrayal of General Kayani as an international man of mystery will generate heated debate locally. Most gruesome and heartrending of all revelations however, is of course our President’s comments on civilian casualties. President Zardari is reported to have said to then Director CIA Gen Hayden: “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.” It is difficult to ...

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An open letter to Barack Obama

Dear President Obama, Hope you’re doing well. America seems to be on its way to progress. You took some bold steps in Afghanistan in the war on terror and supported Middle Eastern countries in their stance against Israel. Although it may be surprising coming from a Pakistani, I write to you with reference to your favouritism towards Israel. When you were elected I was told by many of my friends that you were not different from previous administrators, but I kept my faith in you. Now, I see that you continue to be a slave to US policy, just like previous presidents. With ...

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Don’t put a label on it

Islamic centre or mosque? Obama, Muslim or Christian? Flood aid, Indian or not? Why exactly does it matter? In the twenty-first century, labels still define us and somehow they seem to be more important than the ‘bigger picture’. As individual groups, Muslims and Pakistanis have allowed labels to divide themselves, creating disunity which allows for instability. In the case of Pakistanis, a society that acts so quickly and effectively to help fellow citizens in a time of crisis, it doesn’t make sense that Pakistanis would let labels divide themselves to the extent that they have. Pakistanis have a multi-layered and faceted society, and ...

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Wikileaks: a deliberate accident

Wikileaks, has opened a Pandora’s box by making public the transcripts or journals of the hour by hour detail of service by Nato soldiers in Afghanistan. It has been termed as the biggest leak in the history of intelligence. Most news sources are giving the story the headline of “Pakistan back Taliban in Afghanistan against the Nato forces.” The White House has strongly condemned the incident and sent detailed answers to the media describing how the US wants to establish peace in Afghanistan and wishes to work along with its partner Pakistan. They have shown that they have nothing to do with Wikileaks who has ...

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Top secret America – what went wrong?

Yesterday, the Washington Post finally released the first part of what was one of the mostly hotly anticipated newspaper articles in years, a massive investigative report, two years in the making, about what it calls America’s “fourth branch” of government. The report has a dedicated site and will be released in installments, the first part yesterday and the second today, with more to follow. The piece was controversial even before it was released and has been generating a great deal of talk since its first installment hit the press and the internet. If you don’t have time to read the full ...

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A failing US Af-Pak policy

US Afghan strategy has been dealt one blow after another of late, and the war efforts seem to be faced with a much greater resistance and criticism, both from within and without. The Af-Pak policy seems to be in a serious jeopardy after the current stream of events. The Rolling Stone article exploded into the face of American policy-makers. Despite the claims made of the extensive legislations and policy-making over US military operations in Afghanistan, it’s been General McChrystal and his ‘Team America’ who’s been calling the actual shots, says the article. As if this was not enough to ...

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