Islamabad: US President Barack Obama’s visit to India dominated the front pages of Pakistani newspapers on Sunday, with the media focusing on his efforts to drum up business and create new jobs for the American economy.
Pakistani TV news channels followed every move made by Obama and his wife Michelle, providing live coverage of his public speaking engagements, interactions with different segments of society and even his arrivals in Mumbai and New Delhi.
The headline on the front page of the influential Dawn newspaper highlighted $10 billion trade deal between the two countries which will generate 50,000 jobs in the US.
The dailies provided extensive coverage of various events that Obama or his wife participated though there were no editorials or articles analysing his comments.
Obama and his wife’s interactions with children in Mumbai, and footage of Michelle dancing with children from orphanages to the beat of a Bollywood tune, figured prominently in the news bulletins of most TV channels.
The channels also extensively covered Obama’s function at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College, where he urged India and Pakistan to work together to resolve their differences while pushing Islamabad to do more to tackle extremism.
The channels noted that Obama had said India would benefit more than any other country from better ties with Pakistan.
“I am absolutely convinced that the country that has the biggest stake in Pakistan is India. If Pakistan is stable and prosperous, that’s best for India,” Obama said.
Senior PML-Q leader Mushahid Hussain Sayed, a noted commentator on foreign policy issues, said that the basic objectives of Obama’s visit to India were improving the US economy, addressing New Delhi’s concerns that bilateral relations were not as warm as they were under former President George W Bush, and preparing India to act as a counter-balance to China.
“This visit has had no adverse effect on Pakistan. In fact, Obama has backed Pakistan’s position by calling on India to resume the dialogue between the two countries. He also made it clear that it was in India’s interest to have a strong, successful and stable Pakistan,” Sayed said.
He noted that Obama had also sent out a good message by describing Islam as a religion of peace.
“The benefits of this visit will be for the US and Obama, who is seeking to shore up the American economy. There are superficial benefits for India as there are no firm outcomes,” Sayed said, noting that Obama had given no indications about India’s role in Afghanistan or its desire to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.