“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,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when asked in the third and final presidential debate if it was time for the United States to divorce Pakistan.
Mr Romney, however, endorsed the drone strikes, saying that he supports the Obama administration’s policy on this key issue. Mr Obama did not directly address this issue but when confronted by the moderator, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, he said he was also engaging the countries where the United States was fighting terrorists.
Mr Obama also avoided responding directly to questions about Pakistan and neither the moderator nor Mr Romney pressed him for an answer, reflecting an apparent understanding on not concerning the president on sensitive security issues. “I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely,” Mr Romney said, while endorsing the current US policy on these unmanned aircraft.
He said he felt that President Obama 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.” Pakistan was mentioned 25 times in the 90-minute debate but mostly by Mr Romney. US President Barack Obama mentioned Pakistan only four times, twice when talking about his decision to raid Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad. “And you said we should ask Pakistan for permission.
And if we had asked Pakistan permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him,” said Mr Obama while quoting from Mr Romney’s earlier statement on this issue. “I can tell you at the same time, that we will make sure that we look at what’s happening in Pakistan, and recognize that what’s happening in Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in Afghanistan,” said Mr Romney when asked if he would still withdraw US troops from Afghanistan if he was told that Kabul was not yet ready to shoulder security responsibilities by 2014. “And I say that because I know a lot of people that feel like we should just brush our hands and walk away,” he said. “And I don’t mean you, Mr President, but some people in our nation feel that Pakistan is not being nice to us, and that we should walk away from them,” he explained. “But Pakistan is important to the region, to the world and to us, because Pakistan has 100 nuclear warheads and they’re rushing to build a lot more. They’ll have more than Great Britain sometime in the relatively near future.”