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.