Washington, Oct 8 : Pakistan once again emerged as one of the focal points of the debate between Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. The two rivals had the second of their three debates yesterday.
Both stuck to their earlier stances regarding tackling terrorism in Pakistan, particularly along the Pak-Afghan border.
While Obama reiterated crushing Al Qaeda and "attacking" Pakistan to weed out terrorism from there, McCain stuck to "working with Pakistan" in the war-against-terror. He said that Obama's stand of attacking Pakistan won't win any allies in Pakistan and that it will turn Pakistanis' opinion against the US.
Replying to a question from the audience, Democrat Obama said: "If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda, that has to be our biggest national security priority."
Reacting to Obama's resolve, McCain said, "Obama had announced that he will attack Pakistan. Senator Obama likes to talk aloud".
Arguing that Obama's strategy "would gain no allies in Pakistan", McCain said that a cross border attack would instead rally Pakistani public opinion against the US.
Quoting early 20th century US president Theodore Roosevelt, McCain said the commander-in-chief should "talk softly, but carry a big stick", and added "We need to get them to work with us and turn against the Taliban and others."
He said: "Cooperation would occur only by coordinating our efforts together, not threatening to attack them. I am not going to telegraph my punches, which is what the (Obama) did."
To this, Obama recalled that McCain had also once talked about attacking Iran and annihilation of North Korea. "That is not an example of speaking softly," said Obama about McCain.