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Obama's Nobel puzzles Pakistanis living close to war

While Obama is seen as an improvement over Bush, many Pakistanis feel the president hasn't done enough to merit the peace prize. They are still wary of Obama and his policies.

October 10, 2009|Alex Rodriguez

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Many Pakistanis haven't fully made up their minds about President Obama. They like that he has reached out to the Muslim community and appears genuinely interested in what other world players have to say.

But Pakistanis also remain wary of Obama and his policies regarding their part of the world. They worry that he won't solve the conflict in Afghanistan, an eight-year war on Pakistan's doorstep.

"If the category is peace, he doesn't deserve the peace prize," said Nadeem Umtaz, 49, a salesman at a women's clothing store at the Jinnah Super Market in Islamabad, the capital.

"The situation keeps getting worse in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I think he got the prize because he's a powerful man, that's all."

For Pakistanis, a key yardstick for measuring Obama's ability to bring about peace is how he deals with the volatile tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border, where Taliban militants and Al Qaeda fighters are entrenched. And Pakistanis vehemently oppose Obama's reliance on drone missile strikes to take out militants, because they say those attacks also kill civilians.

"There's no end to death and destruction in Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Ayaz Wazir, a security analyst and expert on Pakistan's tribal areas.

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alex.rodriguez@latimes.com

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