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In Order to Lead the World’

The bitter reality of the entire process is that instead of proving to be ‘a game changer’, elections are considered merely a tussle among the big business entities to sell their corporate agenda to public effectively and that is why some people consider elections ‘a usual business’.

The quadrennial presidential elections in the US are critically observed by the friends and foes, allies and competitors of America and are also assessed in accordance with their policy options and agendas given the elections are held for the most important position in the world politics. Policy makers and political analysts, across the globe, do not only contemplate on who should become the president but also discuss the post-elections course of politics in the US in view of its prospects and consequences for many states from policy perspectives. The elections undoubtedly attract the mainstream media of the countries worldwide generating discussions, criticism, analyses and assessments on domestic and foreign policy achievements of the incumbent president and his party and the probable outcome and ‘change’ in the wake of elections.

At home, elections are viewed differently by people from different walks of life. To some, elections bring the season when American people experience the extreme of political bustle across the country. It is the time when presidential debates are staged and propagandists are at the zenith of their feat. For some people, it is the time which is celebrated across the US with ecstatic support of the candidates. On the other hand, many believe that it is the time which brings critics into limelight. Also, it is the time when policy and decision-makers in the US find their nerve-racking and experience unnerving moments. Above all, it brings the American corporate sector into action to settle their terms with the candidates. The bitter reality of the entire process is that instead of proving to be ‘a game changer’, elections are considered merely a tussle among the big business entities to sell their corporate agenda to public effectively and that is why some people consider elections ‘a usual business’.

This year, presidential elections campaign brought into limelight a Republican candidate Mitt Romney who is a business man and a former governor of Massachusetts, as a potential successor to President Obama. As per process, the incumbent and the potential candidate(s) gain vote bank and increase their ratings through ‘face-off’ presidential debates and for that what they require is to convince the people to be the most deserving of the Oval Office.

Generally, it is the agenda or set of policies of a candidate that is considered important and scrutinised carefully in comparison to the other. There are some critical domestic issues which Americans are sensitive about and are seriously concerned this time again. Economy remains to be the most important issue for Americans as they would like their government to introduce reforms to ease taxes, generate employment, facilitate education and provide better healthcare and medicare facilities. It is all about domestic issues and policies that the entire American nation is looking forward to hearing from the candidates. As voters they want assurances of economic and health security and for that they are willing to be a part of ‘change’ that would be brought in.

In 2008, during presidential campaign, Barack Obama managed to earn the love and votes of majority of the public for he made them believe in change. He acted like change and he was the change people wanted at that time.

 Economy remains to be the most important issue for Americans as they would like their government to introduce reforms to ease taxes, generate employment, facilitate education and provide better healthcare and medicare facilities.
 So far, the presidential debate, views and remarks of the incumbent president and Republican candidate predominantly highlighted the domestic agenda and foreign policy issues apparently are given little emphasis in comparison. However, for the world outside the US, it is foreign policy perspective that is a matter of concern. Whether President Obama earns the second term or Romney accesses the presidency, major powers and other countries are more watchful of the change in the course of foreign policy pursuits.

US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND PAKISTAN

For Pakistan, the change in the administration and foreign policy agenda has been a matter of concern for years. Coincidently, when the US experienced election campaign in 2008, President Musharraf had resigned the same year and democratic government came to power in Pakistan. Now, once again, elections season is fast approaching in Pakistan. Some sections in Pakistan believe that with the Republican government in the US, Pakistan experiences military government and Democrats tend to project democratic government in Pakistan, however this remains largely a false assumption. The government and policymakers are seriously concerned about the future scenario of Pakistan-US relations with or without Obama as the president of the US.
A fair analysis establishes a fact that past four years have been as critical a phase in Pakistan-US relations as the eight years of Bush Administration. The apparent soft foreign policy stance towards war against terrorism with a specific reference to Pakistan’s support to the US that Obama had adopted during his presidential debates was radically changed the time he assumed the presidency. Time and again Pakistan raised the issue of increased drone attacks inside its territory with the US government but in vain. The Operation Neptune Spear and Salala incident not only flared anti-American sentiments but also affected the ties between the two states. It is not difficult to envisage or analyse the future course of relationship between the US and Pakistan. Romney being a hardliner would opt for more stringent actions in the name of war against terrorism. On the other hand, Obama is likely to pursue the same course his administration has been pursuing for past four years.

Apart from the political issues that Pakistan-US relations are faced with, what might be more critical for this relationship is the ‘change’ which Pakistan is likely to experience next year in the wake of general elections. Two issues may pose formidable challenge to the new government in Pakistan and the US both: drone attacks and the US stance on Pakistan-Afghanistan equation. The onus would lie on the government of Pakistan to make the US realise that it cannot succeed in achieving its goals in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan.

Also, to make the US give due consideration to the fact that for the political stability and peace in the region all the major actors, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are required to cooperate and work in collaboration. For reasons obvious to everyone, it would be difficult for the government in Pakistan to deal with anti-American sentiments in the country. The new government would require an approach that gain on these critical issues effectively.

As for Romney, he has already accused Pakistan of ‘playing double’; siding with the Taliban and also with American government. In his view, Pakistan must decide whether the country is ‘with us or with them.’ The Republican government in the Oval Office is likely to stiffen its stance on Pakistan. However, the US government cannot defeat the insurgents in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan and along with Afghan government. If Romney comes to power, he may opt for some amendments in Af-Pak strategy and the course of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. What he would  require is a balanced approach and policy pursuits with the cooperation of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In less than a month’s time, it will be decided that who is going to lead America and the rest of the world through the Oval Office. Whoever comes to power, the challenges ahead are more than opportunities and as always to lead the world is a risky business.

 

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