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Obama to go into Pakistan unilaterally

July 16, 2008 21:40 IST

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Lashing out at President George W Bush [Images] for his failure to "roll up" the Al Qaeda [Images] leadership, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama [Images] has insisted that his administration will go into Pakistan unilaterally if there was actionable intelligence.

Obama repeated what he has been saying since last August in an interview on CNN stressing that in order to effectively deal with Al Qaeda, the US has to have a stronger relationship with the new government in Pakistan unlike the way the Bush administration had placed all the eggs in the basket of President Pervez Musharraf [Images].

"I think it is extraordinary, the failure of this administration, to roll up Al Qaeda leadership in a serious way. We know they're based now in Pakistan. And I've said that if we had actionable intelligence on those high-value targets, then we should go after them," Obama said on Larry King Live.

"In order for us to be effective in dealing with the resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban as they use Pakistan -- the northwest provinces -- as a sanctuary, we've got to have a stronger relationship with the Pakistani government -- the new Pakistani government," he added.

"We had put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket. President Musharraf has lost credibility with his people. What we need to do is to form an alliance with the Pakistani people, saying that we're willing to significantly increase aid for humanitarian purposes," the Illinois Senator said.

"We want to support democratic efforts in Pakistan. But in exchange, we've got to have some firmness about going after Al Qaeda and Taliban, because it's not good for American security, but it's also not good for Pakistani security," he said.

The Illinois Democrat was pressed specifically on the issue if the United States under his administration will militarily go inside Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden.

"As I've said before, I would use -- if I had actionable intelligence, we would go after bin Laden," Senator Obama replied.

The Illinois Democrat who now leads his rival Senator John McCain [Images] by at least eight points in a latest survey argued that he has not gone back on his plans for Iraq, which is still the withdrawal of American troops under a 16 month framework, but with a residual force staying back.

"Where Senator McCain I think is confused is the difference between tactics and strategy. I am absolutely convinced that, strategically, it is time for us to bring this war to an end. And we can bring our combat troops out over the course of 16 months, which would mean that we would have gotten our combat troops out two years from now -- seven years from the time that the war began," Senator Obama maintained.

"And that is not a precipitous withdrawal. It is a pace that I think would allow us to do what we need to do in Iraq, and that is to make sure that their army and their police forces are sufficiently trained to manage day-to-day operations inside of Iraq," he said.

"I've also said that we'll leave a residual force there to engage in counter-terrorism activities inside Iraq, as well, to protect our bases and our diplomats and civilian workers there. But this gives us ample time to wind this thing down in a way that allows us to support what's happening in Afghanistan and relieves the extraordinary stresses that have been placed on military families," he added.

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