Obama warns Pakistan over al-Qaeda

113.jpgBarack Obama, the US presidential candidate, has said he would be prepared to attack al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan without Islamabad’s approval.

 

The Democratic senator’s agressive tone in his first major foreign policy speech followed a criticism last week from his main rival, Hillary Clinton, that his judgment on foreign policy was naive.

 

Obama’s stance comes amid claims by US officials that Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, has been unable to control a resurgent al-Qaeda and Taliban in areas of northwest Pakistan.

 

US sources have also spoken of concerns new recruits could be being trained there for attacks against the US.

“If we have actionable intelligence about high-value “terrorist” targets and president Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Obama said on Wednesday.

 

“I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges, but let me make this clear: there are “terrorists” holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again.”

 

Pakistan’s reaction

 

Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, told AFP she would not comment as Obama was not president, but added: “These are serious matters and should not be used for point-scoring.

 

“Political candidates and commentators should show responsibility.”

 

The Illinois Democrat is trying to convince Americans he has the foreign policy heft to be president after Clinton questioned his readiness to be commander-in-chief.

 

Clinton last week labelled Obama naive for saying he would be willing to meet the leaders of Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela without preconditions in his first year in office.

 

A poll by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News said Clinton has widened her lead over Obama, going up to 43 per cent in July from 39 per cent in June.

 

Obama tallied 22 per cent, down from 25 per cent in June.

 

Those polled cited Clinton’s experience and competence highest among her positive attributes.

 

Obama said he would make hundreds of millions of dollars in US military aid to Pakistan conditional on Pakistan making substantial progress in closing down training camps, evicting foreign fighters and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks on Afghanistan.

 

The White House said Pakistan was working hard to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and Washington was doing what it could in support.

 

“At the same time, we recognise the sovereignty of the Pakistani government and realise that they’re putting on a serious push… They’re taking the fight to al-Qaeda,” spokesman Tony Snow said.

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