Mumbai: In his first comments on Pakistan, on this four-day India trip, US President Barack Obama said, "Pakistan is a strategically important country, not just for America, but for the world." Obama was responding to a question from a student at the St Xavier's College in Mumbai, who asked why United States had refrained from calling Pakistan a terrorist state. "I must admit that I was expecting it," said the US President as he responded to the question.
The US President said Washington would not mediate in the dialogue between India and Pakistan and it was up to the two South Asian neighbours to mend fences. "India and Pakistan can prosper and live side by side. This can happen and this should be the ultimate goal. The US can be a partner but cannot impose this process. India and Pakistan have to arrive at an understanding," said Obama. "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."
Obama said the biggest stakeholder in a 'stable and prosperous' Pakistan is India. He added, "If Pakistan is unstable, that's bad for India. If it's good and prosperous, that's good, because India is on the move. (You) Don't want the distraction of security in your region."
Noting that there are going to be some elements in Pakistan that are affiliated with Taliban, Al-Qaida and LeT, Obama said they are "irreconcilable" and there needs to be a military response to those who perpetrate violence like they did in Mumbai and New York in a "significant, ongoing" way. US will work with Islamabad to reject extremism which is a "cancer" which threatens to engulf it. The US President said, "Pakistan understands the threats from extremism. They now understand the threats within their borders. The progress is not as quick as we'd like."
(With PTI Inputs)