US President Barack Obama has won re-election for a second term. His defeat of his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, was narrow, but despite last-minute hiccups, the electorate spoke in favour of four more years for the President. The American people gave a warm response to the Democratic Party in 2008 when it nominated an African-American to be its presidential candidate, and rallied to his call of “Change” with enthusiasm. His bid for re-election, as in his first campaign, came in the midst of an economic crisis. His re-election is a sign that the electorate is reluctant to change Presidents mid-stream and wish to see the policies President Obama introduced, bought to fruition. Now that the campaign is over, the Obama Administration does not have to prepare for a transition, but it does have to prepare for a second inaugural, before tackling problems that face the USA, both at home and abroad, still await solving.

The response in Pakistan while generally favourable, is tinged with discomfort with expectation that President Obama will continue on a path which led to the dip in relations with Pakistan, which to this day both sides have not been able to recover from. It has also been noted that President Obama, as well as Governor Romney, did agree to continue drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Though the Democrat Administration will be expected to support a democratically elected government in Pakistan, it should not be forgotten that both Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Musharraf staged their takeovers during the tenures of Democratic Presidents, Carter and Clinton respectively. Though President Obama, during his 2008 campaign, spoke of the need to resolve the Kashmir issue, raised hopes in Pakistan, his failure to address this, dashed them. The failure to mention this issue at all this time around indicates that the Indian lobby has prevailed in Washington.  At the same time, it should not be forgotten that Obama is also under obligation to the Israeli lobby, but is not as rabidly committed as Governor Romney. Also, it should not be forgotten that his Administration showed the traditional Democratic tilt towards India, which may be expected to continue. The hawks may not have come into power, but President Obama will hardly be a disappointment to those in favour of keeping the pressure up on Pakistan.

The reaction of Governor Romney to President Obama’s victory also provides a lesson to Pakistani politicians. His graceful concession speech provided a salve to the disappointment of supporters, and prevented any of those charges of rigging that even leaders in Pakistan so routinely fling about when they lose. With a general election around the corner, this is a lesson that must be taken to heart, especially now that the Asghar Khan case helps ensure that the elections are fair and free.