Washington: US President Barack Obama has said that the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has become more honest over time.
“I think what happened is that the relationship has become more honest over time,” Obama told Voice of America during an interview, when asked whether the US-Pakistan relationship had soured.
“That raises some differences that are real,” the President said in his first interview since Wednesday evening when he announced his new strategy for the Pak-Afghan region.
“Obviously, the operation to take out Osama bin Laden created additional tensions, but I had always been very clear to Pakistan that if we ever found him [bin Laden] and had a shot, that we would take it,” he added.
Obama also said that Pakistan “not only has a responsibility, but also a deep interest in dealing with terrorist elements that are still in their territory.”
He also acknowledged that the US focus had shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
“I think the focus shifted to Pakistan, in my view, two years ago. So we’ve sought to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan,” Obama said.
Explaining his focus-shift, he said that events had forced him to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a similar problem.
Pakistan’s tribal areas, he said, provided al Qaeda and other extremists groups with safe havens from where they launched attacks into Afghanistan, Pakistan and around the world, the Dawn reports.
When asked if Pakistan has to play a greater role against terrorism, Obama said: “I think that Pakistan has always seen terrorism as either a problem for somebody else, or has seen elements of the Taliban as a hedge in terms of their influence within Afghanistan.”
He said that the US had suggested to Pakistan that terrorism not only threatened Pakistan more than just about any other country, but it also strained its relations with its neighbours and with friends like America.