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Romney supports drone attacks on Pakistan

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During the third presidential debate Monday night, Republican Presidential hopeful, Governor Mitt Romney supported President Barack Obama's drone operations in Pakistan. When the moderator Bob Schieffer asked Romney "we know President Obama's position on this, what is your position on the use of drones?"

Romney said he "believed we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world." He supported the drone attacks in Pakistan by saying: "I feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends."

According to a report last month by academics at Stanford and New York universities, between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed since the strikes in Pakistan began in 2004. The report said of those, up to  881 were civilians, including 176  children. Only 41 people who had died had been confirmed as "high-value' terrorist targets.

On US-Pakistan relations, Schieffer reminded Romney that "General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, says that Americans continue to die at the hands of groups who are supported by Pakistan. We know that Pakistan has arrested the doctor (Dr. Shakeel Afridi) who helped us catch Osama bin Laden. It still provides safe haven for terrorists, yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars."

Schieffer asked: Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?

Romney said no, it's not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point. Pakistan is important for the success of Afghanistan, said Romney adding: "Because inside Pakistan, you have a -- a large group of Pashtun that are -- that are Taliban. They're going to come rushing back in to Afghanistan when we go. And that's one of the reasons the Afghan Security Forces have so much work to do to be able to fight against that. But it's important for us to recognize that we can't just walk away from Pakistan."

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Romney voiced concern about the Haqqani network, a militant group in Afghanistan that US officials have linked to Pakistan, and worried over the power of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. "It's a nation that's not like others and it does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there," Romney said.

He said Pakistan is technically our ally but it is not acting very much like an ally right now. "But we have some work to do. And I -- I don't blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We -- we had to go into Pakistan. We had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden."

He added that "we're going to have to work with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible course than the one that they're on. And it's important for them. It's important for the nuclear weapons."

On US aid to Pakistan, Romney was of the view that any US aid to Pakistan should "be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a more stable government and rebuild the relationship with us."

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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