Contrary to expectation, the Middle East replaced Pakistan as the most prominent focus of the third and last debate, on foreign policy, between the Democratic and Republican candidates. However, on the subject of Pakistan, incumbent President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney respectively, both committed to continue the drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas, along with giving the indication that no matter who formed the next government, US policy towards Pakistan was likely to remain unchanged. As is tradition, a single-minded pursuit of what was seen as the American national interest trumped the fact that the current policy has been the source of great unpopularity for the US in the region. Offering little clarity of the vision for post 2014 Afghanistan, both incumbents agreed on some wishy-washy idea of having done just enough to qualify as not a loss, after 11 years of war.  President Obama’s claim that had permission from Pakistani authorities been sought for the Abbottabad raid, Osama bin Laden would have escaped, was a simple scare tactic to deflect from Governor Romney’s accurate  recommendation that Pakistan ought to have been consulted. To reinforce the impression that Pakistan could not be trusted, was unworthy of President Obama. There is also no proof that the President can offer, to surmise that had Pakistan been consulted and made part of the operation, Osama Bin Laden would not have met the same end. Governor Romney’s saying that Pakistan should be kept close, must not be viewed with much hope, when it is kept in mind that he is an even stronger supporter of Israel, and pressed President Obama to commit the USA to join it in an attack on Iran.

The USA is a superpower, indeed the world’s sole superpower. Thus the future foreign policy it will follow is of interest, sometimes overpowering interest, to other countries. However, the election in the US will not be decided by foreign policy, but domestic economic considerations. The debate is simply a promise of the foreign policy that would be followed by whichever candidate succeeds. However, it should be remembered that President Obama, as a candidate, said the Kashmir issue should be resolved, but did nothing about it while in office. Similarly, elected on a promise to bring the war on terror to an end, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in his first year in office, but the war is not over, and he is preparing to invade yet another Muslim country, Iran, in support of Israel. With Romney backing extreme positions even before being elected, it becomes even more unlikely that he will bring any justice or balance to US foreign policy.

The attitudes expressed during the debate should cause a rethink among both the permanent and the elected officials of the Pakistan government as to how a more sympathetic attitude to Pakistan can be made possible.