MUMBAI, Nov 7 (IANS) - Ruling out the US becoming part of India-Pakistan bilateral talks, President Barack Obama Sunday said India has "the biggest stake" in a successful and stable Pakistan.
"Obviously the history between India and Pakistan is incredibly complex and born out of much tragedy and violence. It may be surprising, but I am absolutely convinced that the country which has the biggest stake in Pakistan's success is India," Obama said at an interaction with students at the St. Xavier's college here.
"If Pakistan is unstable, that's bad for India. If Pakistan is stable and prosperous, that's good because India is on the move," he added, asserting that it was in India's interest to remove the “distraction” of insecurity in the region when it was moving ahead on the global economic stage.
Incidentally, when he got the question on Pakistan, the US President quipped: “I was expecting this.”
Answering a query on why Pakistan had not been declared a terrorist state, Obama asserted that Pakistan was an “enormous country” which was a “strategically important country not just for us, but for the world”.
He felt that while the Pakistani people had “enormous potential”, it was a country with extremist elements within its territory.
“We will work with the Pakistan government to eradicate extremism which is a cancer that can engulf the country. We think that the Pakistan government understands the potential threat that exists within the borders,” said Obama.
He admitted that “progress is not as quick as we like” and it was partly due to the difficult terrain of the terrorist havens in the North-West Frontier Province and also because the Pakistan army was slowly adapting to its changed focus.
Obama hoped that “over time” trust develops between India and Pakistan. He added that he wanted both countries to begin dialogue on “less controversial issues to more controversial issues”.
He said the United States will not be part of the bilateral talks, but can only act as a support. “US stands to be a friend and partner in the process, but cannot impose that on India and Pakistan,” said Obama.