US President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama quickly departed after last week’s mid-term elections for a lengthy political trip which included India. After the President’s Democratic Party lost drastically in the election, Obama departed the US to seek business relationships in an effort to bring jobs to America. The trip, though an effort to help the US failing economy, has been criticized by citizens as too costly when the country is struggling. The First Couple has over 200 chief executives traveling with them and is one of his longest overseas trips as he also makes stops in Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan.
While in India, Obama held a town hall style meeting and was met with hard questions, especially by one student at Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s School. She asked why the United States had stopped short of branding Pakistan a terrorist state. The students had been encouraged to ask tough questions of Obama by his wife who insisted, “Ask my husband some tough questions, all right? You’ve got to keep him on his toes!”
Unlike David Cameron who came out during his July visit and responded that Islamabad was “looking both ways” in the war on terror, Obama was criticized as sidestepping the questions and stated that Pakistan was important not only to American but the world. He pushed that it was important for India and Pakistan to resolve their discourse without US mediation.
Obama said: “The US can be a partner but cannot impose this process. India and Pakistan have to arrive at an understanding. My hope is that in time, trust develops between India and Pakistan and dialogue on less controversial issues and building up to more controversial issues.”
India openly brands Pakistan as a terrorist nation and blames them for the November 26, 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai that left the country terrified and 160 people dead. Obama answered the student’s question about the United States’ reluctance to label Pakistan as a terrorist nation by saying: “I think the Pakistani government understands now the potential threat that exists within their own borders. Progress is not as quick as we’d like.
“Our feeling has been to be honest and forthright with Pakistan, to say we are your friend, that this is a problem and we will help you but the problem has to be addressed.”