The AfPak Question

A look at Obama’s AfPak policy over the past four years of his presidency

01 November 2012
US President Barack Obama with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai at the White House in 2009.
JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS
US President Barack Obama with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai at the White House in 2009.
JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

DURING THE 2008 US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, then Senator Barack Obama emphasised the need to look at the military intervention in Afghanistan through a wider lens. The greatest threat to the security of both Afghanistan and the US, he said in a campaign speech on foreign policy in July that year, “lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train and insurgents strike into Afghanistan”.

In December 2008, just after being elected, but not yet wielding his power as the chief executive, Obama spoke of a new policy direction in the US strategy in the war in Afghanistan. In an interview with NBC’s Tom Brokaw, he said, “[W]e can’t continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran.”

His pronouncement caused so much protest in India that Obama immediately gave up the idea of addressing the Kashmir issue for fear of alienating one of America’s new strategic partners. But the “AfPak” concept continued to be publicised by the Obama administration.

Christophe Jaffrelot  is a Contributing Editor at The Caravan. He has authored several books including The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics and Sangh Parivar.

Keywords: united states Pakistan military Afghanistan Christophe Jaffrelot
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