Obama's options in strife torn Pakistan are limited

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Washington, May 4 (ANI): President Barack Obama has only limited options for dealing with the crisis in Pakistan, as the anti-American feeling in the country is high, and US combat presence is prohibited, according to a leading US daily.

The United States is fighting Pakistan-based extremists by proxy in order to save the PPP-led Government.

President Obama and his National Security Council were told by US intelligence that neither a Taliban takeover nor a military coup was imminent and that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal was safe, The Washington Post reports.

Security in Pakistan was deteriorating rapidly, particularly in the mountains along the Afghan border that harbour al-Qaeda and the Taliban, intelligence chiefs reported, and there were signs that those groups were working with indigenous extremists in Pakistan's populous Punjabi heartland.

The tools most readily at hand are money, weapons, and a mentoring relationship with Pakistan's government and military that alternates between earnest advice and anxious criticism, the paper says.

The relationship between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and the US has restrained, after reports surfaced that the Obama Administration was wooing former premier Nawaz Sharif, Zardari's main rival.

"What are the Americans trying to do, micromanage our politics?" a senior Pakistani official said testily. "This is not South Vietnam."

As Zardari arrives this week for his first official visit with Obama -- part of a tripartite summit with Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- the Obama Administration has asked Congress to quickly approve hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency military aid for Pakistan.

That money, and billions more over the next several years, is to come with new authority for the Defence Department to decide what to spend it on.

Obama has also backed a five-year 7.5 billion dollars economic assistance package and is resisting congressional efforts to impose strict conditions on any aid to Pakistan. (ANI)

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