Did Obama's sting prompt Pakistan to detain Jaish chief Masood Azhar?

WASHINGTON: Pakistan came in for an ignominious mention in President Obama's final state of the union address as a country that could see decades of instability and become a safe haven for new terrorist networks, possibly forcing the country's establishment to attempt a turnaround in its policy of using terrorism for its strategic goals. 

The US President's explicit citing of Pakistan on Tuesday, even as he generically referred to Middle-East, and parts of Central America, Africa, and Asia as hotspots, came hours before the Nawaz Sharif government announced it has taken Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar and others into "protective custody" for the Pathankot terrorist attack, under Indian pressure and international scrutiny. 

It was one of the few discordant, downbeat notes in a typically soaring Obama address that was otherwise positive and upbeat about the world and America's role in it. Talking up his seven years in office that has seen the United States' economy head north again, Obama said, "Anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction." The same, he suggested, applied to its position as a global leader.

"All the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker... Let me tell you something. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth, period. Period," he said to a familiar round of applause to any muscular projection of power anywhere. "It's not even close. It's not even close. It's not even close." 

Obama said no nation attacks the US or its allies directly because they know that's the path to ruin. "Ask the leader of al-Qaida in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. And it may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limits," the US President warned. 

On a day when Microsoft's India-born CEO Satya Nadella was Michelle Obama's guest in the VIP box, Obama stood up for immigrants and minorities, calling on Americans to reject politics that targets people because of race or religion. 

"Immigrants aren't the principal reason wages haven't gone up," he said at one point, even though his administration has taken several decisions that make it harder for immigrant enterprise to thrive in America. "America is every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better future." 

Some of Obama's barbs were clearly aimed at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, whose toxic swipes against immigrants and minorities are said to have befouled the political atmosphere leading into the 2016 presidential campaign.

Remarkably, the traditional opposition response to the President's address, articulated by the Republican leadership's choice, South Carolina's Indian-American governor Nikki Haley, agreed with this part of the President's address even as it shredded rest of the speech. 

"No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country," Haley stated in the GOP response, although she cautioned. "At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined." 

Some political pundits saw the choice of Haley as the Republican responder as the party's audition for a vice-presidential candidate, although there's a long way to go before the party can even settle on the presidential nominee.

Source http://m.timesofindia.com/india/Did-Obamas-sting-prompt-Pakistan-to-detain-Jaish-chief-Masood-Azhar/articleshow/50566328.cms


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