Obama tells Pakistan obsession with India as mortal threat misguided

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 30, 2009 12:50 hrs

Washington, April 30 (IANS) President Barack Obama says the US is encouraging Pakistan to recognise that its obsession with India as its mortal threat has been misguided and focus on their biggest threat from extremists internally as Washington does not want to see Pakistan ending up as a nuclear-armed militant state.

'On the military side, you're starting to see some recognition just in the last few days that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally,' Obama said at a prime time news conference Wednesday capping his 100th day in office.

'And you're starting to see the Pakistani military take much more seriously the armed threat from militant extremists,' he said, adding 'We want to continue to encourage Pakistan to move in that direction. And we will provide them all of the cooperation that we can.'

'We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognise that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state,' he said.

Obama said he was confident that the US can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure primarily 'because the Pakistani army, I think, recognises the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.'

The US and Pakistan have got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation, he added.

Asked whether the military could secure the nuclear weapons in a worst-case scenario, Obama said: 'I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals of that sort. I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands.'

But he was 'gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan, not because I think that they're immediately going to be overrun and the Taliban would take over in Pakistan.'

He was more concerned 'that the civilian government there right now is very fragile and doesn't seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services: schools, health care, rule of law, a judicial system that works for the majority of the people'.