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09ISLAMABAD934 2009-05-01 09:45:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

SPECIAL MEDIA REACTION - PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NEWS

Tags:   KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK 
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UNCLAS ISLAMABAD 000934

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OIIP OPRC PGOV PREL PK
SUBJECT: SPECIAL MEDIA REACTION - PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NEWS
CONFERENCE: MAY 1, 2009

Summary: President Obama's remarks that he made in a prime-time
news conference marking the 100-day milestone of his presidency that
the Pakistani government was "extremely fragile" but "able to
protect nuclear arms" dominated headlines in all major newspapers on
Friday. Some sample headlines about Obama's remarks: "Govt.
'fragile', but able to protect N-arms: Obama" (Dawn); "We want
strong relations with the army; Pakistan's civilian government is
weak: Obama," (Nawa-i-Waqt); "Concerned about weak civilian
government in Pakistan: U.S. President," (Jang); "Pakistan's nuclear
weapons are completely safe: President Obama," (Islam); "Worried
Obama confident about Pak nuclear weapons' security," (Daily Times);
"Obama says biggest threat to Pakistan internal, not India,"
(Business Recorder). End Summary.



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News Stories


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"Govt. 'Fragile,' But Able To Protect N-Arms: Obama" "Dawn" (05/01)

"U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is confident Pakistan can
secure its nuclear arsenal from militants but expressed grave
concerns about the security situation in the country. He described
the current Pakistani government as 'extremely fragile' which was
unable to fulfill the basic needs of its people and that's why it
was unable 'to gain the support and the loyalty of their people.'
'I'm confident that we can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal
is secure,' Mr. Obama said at his third prime-time news conference
since assuming office 100 days ago.'"

"We Want Strong Relations With The Army; Pakistan's Civilian
Government Is Weak: Obama," "Nawa-i-Waqt" (05/01)

"President Obama has said that he has grave concerns about the
stability of the Pakistan government but he is fully confident that
Pakistan's nuclear weapons will not land in Muslim militants' hands.
Addressing a press conference at the completion of 100 days in
office, he said that he has grave concerns about the situation in
Pakistan."

"Concerned About Weak Civilian Government in Pakistan: U.S.
President Obama" "Jang" (05/01)

"President Obama has said that the nuclear assets of Pakistan are
safe, but Pakistan Army is well aware of the dangers if they fall
into the wrong hands. 'U.S. has strategic interests in Pakistan and
we respect its sovereignty and wish that Pakistan is strong and
stable,' President Obama said. We want to strengthen our contacts
with the Pakistan Army, he added. 'Al Qaeda and Taliban are the
single direct threat to the national security of the United States
and they can harm our national interest.'"

"Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Are Completely Safe: President Obama"
"Islam" (05/01)

"Addressing a prime-time news conference on his 100th day in the
office, President Obama said, 'I am very concerned about situation
in Pakistan not because Talban are going to take control of
Pakistan, but because the civilian government right now is very
fragile. And it seems that it does not have capacity to provide
basic services like education, healthcare, rule of law, peace and
justice to the people of Pakistan, American President said. We
respect Pakistan's sovereignty, but we also recognize that our
national security interests are linked with a stable Pakistan. 'We
also acknowledge that we have huge strategic interests in Pakistan
and do not want to see it as an extremist state armed with nuclear
arsenal' U.S. President added."

"Worried Obama Confident Over Pak Nuclear Weapons' Security" "Daily
Times" (05/01)

"U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he is 'gravely
concerned' about the stability of the Pakistani government, but is
confident that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal will not fall into the
hands of the Taliban. Addressing a prime-time news conference on
his 100th day in office, Obama called the government in Pakistan
'very fragile.' But he said, 'I'm confident that we can make sure
that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure.' 'I am more concerned
that the civilian government right now is very fragile and don't

seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services, said Obama.
'As a consequence, it's very difficult for them to gain the support
and loyalty of their people,' he added. 'So we need to help
Pakistan and Pakistanis. And I think that there's a recognition
increasingly on the part of both the civilian government there and
the army that that is their biggest weakness," said Obama."

"Obama Says Biggest Threat To Pakistan Internal, Not India"
"Business Recorder" (05/01)

"U.S. President Barack Obama has said Pakistan's army has begun to
realize that home-grown militants and not India pose the biggest
threat to stability, after troops retook a key town from Taliban
militants. Obama also told a news conference in Washington on
Wednesday he was confident about the security of Pakistan's nuclear
arsenal and that the Pakistani Army recognized the dangers of
weapons, falling into the wrong hands. 'On the military side,
you're starting to see some recognition just in the last few days
that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has
been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes
internally,' he said. 'And you're starting to see the Pakistani
military takes much more seriously the armed threat from militant
extremists.' 'U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday voiced
confidence about the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets and
renewed his administration's strong support for country's stability
beset with challenges from militants. 'I'm confident that we can
make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure. Primarily,
initially, because the Pakistan Army, I think, recognizes the
hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands,' he said.
'We've got strong military-to-military consultation and
cooperation," Obama told a White House news conference, marking
first one hundred days of his presidency. He declined to be drawn
into any hypothetical worst case scenarios about Pakistani nuclear
assets and whether the U.S. could ensure their security, if need
be."

"Pakistan's Civilian Govt. Very Fragile, Says Obama; U.S. President
Says Military Overcoming Its 'Misguided' India Obsession" "The News"
(05/01)

"U.S. President Barack Obama said Pakistan's Army had begun to
realize that home-grown militants and not India posed the biggest
threat to stability, after troops retook a key town from the Taliban
militants. Obama also told a news conference in Washington on
Wednesday, he was confident about the security of Pakistan's nuclear
arsenal and that the Pakistan Army recognized the dangers of weapons
falling into the wrong hands. 'On the military side, you're
starting to see some recognition just in the last few days that the
obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been
misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes
internally,' he said."

"Pak govt. Fragile: Obama; Obama Does Not Rule Out U.S. Intervention
If Nuclear Assets Come Under Threat" "The Nation" (05/01)

"U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he was 'gravely
concerned' about the stability of the Pakistan government but that
he was confident Pakistan's nuclear arsenal would not fall into the
hands of militants. 'I'm confident that we can make sure that
Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure,' Obama said at a prime-time
news conference marking his first 100 days in office. 'Primarily,
initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the
hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands. We've got
strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation,' he said
in response to a question. The question put to President Obama was:
'Pakistan appears to be at war with the Taliban inside their own
country. Can you reassure the American people that, if necessary,
America could secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and keep it from
getting into the Taliban's hands or, worst case scenario, even al
Qaeda's hands?' Obama called the government in Pakistan, where army
forces are battling Taliban militants, 'very fragile.'"

"Pakistani Government Is Weak; Is Unable To Provide Basic Facilities
To The Public: Obama" "Express" (05/01)

"U.S. President Obama has said that Pakistan's nuclear assets are
safe but Pakistan's civilian government is weak and unable to
provide basic amenities to the people. Addressing a press
conference at the completion of 100 days in office, he said that he

has grave concerns about the situation in Pakistan not because the
Taliban are about to take over or that the government is being
toppled, but because the civilian government there is very fragile
and is unable to provide basic services to the public - which are
necessary to win public support and loyalty. He said we need to help
Pakistan and Pakistanis."

"We Will Take Action If Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Land In The Hands
Of Extremists: Obama" "Khabrain" (05/01) (Note: the text of the
story in Khabrain does not include any reference to the headline.
End note)

"U.S. President Obama has said that he has grave concerns about
Pakistan's stability and added that Pakistan's civilian government
is very weak and we need to help it. He said that Pakistan faces
internal threats, not threats from India. Addressing a press
conference on completion of 100 days in office, he said that
Pakistan's government is weak and unable to provide basic facilities
like health, education and justice to its people. He said we should
help Pakistan provide these services to its people."

"Worried About fragile Civilian Government, Want To Strengthen Ties
with Pak Army: Obama" "Ausaf" (05/01)

"U.S. President Obama while addressing a press conference in
Washington has said that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure.
'Pakistan Army is aware of the fact that the biggest threat comes
from within and not from India' stated American President. 'Pak Army
has started to take extremists more seriously, and we hope that they
will continue to move in this direction. He said that the U.S. is
confident that Pakistan's nuclear arms are secured."

"Pak Govt. Very Fragile, Nuclear Arsenal Safe: Obama" "Pakistan
Observer" (05/01)

"The U.S. President Barack Obama has said that Pakistan's government
was 'very fragile,' but was confident that the country's nuclear
arsenal would not fall into militant hands. 'You're starting to see
the Pakistani military take much more seriously the armed threat
from militant extremists,' Obama told his third prime-time
nationally televised press conference since assuming office on
January 20. Obama, who completed his first 100 days in office
today, said the civilian government in Pakistan is 'very fragile'
and doesn't have the capacity to even deliver the basic services to
its citizens. 'I am gravely concerned about the situation in
Pakistan, not because I think that they're immediately going to be
overrun and the Taliban would take over in Pakistan. I'm more
concerned that the civilian government there right now is very
fragile and don't seem to have the capacity to deliver basic
services: schools, health care, rule of law, a judicial system that
works for the majority of the people.'"

"Zardari Govt. Is 'Very Fragile,' Says Obama" "The Statesman"
(05/01)

"US President Barack Obama has voiced worries about the weakness of
Pakistan's government and did not rule out US intervention if the
Islamic power's nuclear weapons fell into extremist hands.

In a prime-time news conference marking the 100-day milestone of his
presidency, Obama said he was increasingly confident that Pakistan
was serious about fighting militants and that its nuclear weapons
were secure. But Obama said that the civilian government of
President Asif Ali Zardari, who is due in Washington next week, was
unable to provide basic services that would ensure people's loyalty.
'I am gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan, not
because I think that they're immediately going to be overrun and the
Taliban would take over in Pakistan,' Obama said. 'I am more
concerned that the civilian government right now is very fragile and
don't seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services, like
health care and the rule of law. As a consequence, it's very
difficult for them to gain the support and loyalty of their people,'
Obama said."



--------------------------


Op-ed


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"Obama Throws A Ton Of Bricks On Zardari," news analysis by Group

Editor Shaheen Sehbai in the centrist national English daily "The
News" (cir. 55,000) (05/04)

"President Barack Obama's 100th day prime TV time press conference
on Wednesday night has created a grossly uneven playing field for
President Asif Ali Zardari's upcoming visit to Washington, as the
candid and frank, almost brutal, observations of Obama have cut
Zardari to a very small size besides giving the Pakistan Army much
more importance than the Pakistani leadership would like to hear....
It dug deep into the credibility and future of the civilian set-up,
specially the fate of Zardari himself, who everyone in Washington
knows, has been running Pakistan as a one-man show. So the
criticism hits the Pakistani President right where it hurts."
Feierstein