US doesn't want to arm Pak against India: Obama to Zardari

"We do not begrudge you being concerned about India," Obama had told Zardari at the meeting on May 7, 2009, which was also attended by the Pakistan President's son Bilawal, according to a new book.

This was a chance for the two Presidents to forge a personal connection, writes award-winning investigative American journalist Bob Woodward in his latest book 'Obama's War' that hit the stands today.

"... we do not want to be part of arming you (Pakistan) against India, so let me be very clear about that," Obama, who assumed office in January 2009, had said.
To his remarks, Zardari responded saying: "We are trying to change our world view but it's not going to happen overnight."

Running into 417-pages, the book gives a detailed account of how the United States has not been able to make things move in a positive direction and get desired cooperation from Pakistan in the war on terror, despite having significantly increased the aid to Islamabad.

One of the main reasons, several top US officials say, is Pakistan's apprehension and hatred against India, according to the book.

"Pakistan thinks about the US role in Afghanistan in the context of its relationship with India," the then Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Obama at one of his situation room meetings.

It was the cliche that Pakistan's obsession with its "mortal enemy", India, cause the nation to harbour terrorists, the book says.

"There's a fundamental incoherence in the strategy" for dealing with Pakistan, US Vice President Joe Biden said at the same meeting chaired by Obama.

"What Pakistan does not want, as a matter of faith, is a unified Afghan government that is led by a Pashtun sympathetic to India" like President Hamid Karzai, he said.
So for Pakistan, supporting Taliban "is a hedge against that. But our policy is designated to strengthen a Karzai government and to wipe out the Taliban," Biden said indicating that it was impossible to win over the Pakistanis completely, the book says.

At another situation room meeting on October 7, Woodward writes, the consensus inside the intelligence community was that Afghanistan would not be straightened out until there was a stable relationship between Pakistan and India.

"We need to move aggressively on India-Pakistan issues in order to try to reduce the tensions between the two countries," Obama said at the meeting, the book says.
"Why can't we have straightforward talks with India on why a stable Pakistan is crucial? Obama asked. "India is moving toward a higher place in its global posture. A stable Pakistan would help that," the President remarked, according to the book.

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