A Saturday phone call between President-elect Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has yielded, according to President Karzai, a firm commitment to make Afghanistan and the “region” a top priority in the incoming Obama Administration. The “region” appears to be a reference to Pakistan.
The move hardly comes as a surprise, with Obama having made an Afghanistan-centric foreign policy among the cornerstones of his foreign policy during the campaign, and called for strikes in Pakistan from the beginning of primary season.
President Karzai has also been a long-time advocate of strikes into Pakistan, threatening at one point this summer to send his own under-equipped military into the Pakistani tribal regions to fight the militants. President Bush sought to “calm” the tensions that threat caused, but not long after the US embarked on its own policy of unilateral strikes into Pakistani territory.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has expressed optimism that the Obama Administration would be open to ending the drone strikes, seriously unpopular among the Pakistani population. It seems however that Obama’s conversation with Karzai indicates that his position on strikes into Pakistan has not changed, leaving Pakistan with no obvious alternative but to revert to its reported strategy of publicly complaining about the drone strikes but ultimately doing nothing about it.