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Karachi

February 5, 2017

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‘Obama was a man of consensus’

‘Obama was a man of consensus’

Karamatullah Khan Ghori says Donald Trump is Obama’s antithesis

and a bull in a China shop

Barack Obama was a man of consensus and, unlike the present White House incumbent, he did not believe in confrontation for the sake of confrontation but believed in searching harmony among all groups while finding solutions to issues through consensus.

These views were voiced by former ambassador Karamatullah Khan Ghori, who served in a whole lot of countries, while addressing members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), the media and the intellectual elite of town on Saturday evening.

He drew rather a positive balance sheet of the Obama tenure and spoke in positive terms of the former US president’s legacy.

To begin with, he talked of Obama’s handling of the economy and said that what he inherited from George Bush, Jr., was a fractured economy with a budgetary deficit of two trillion dollars, which was 50 percent of the US economy, which Obama cut to just 12.5 percent by the end of his second tenure.

“Barack Obama was a phenomenon and will be remembered for many things, including being the first US president of non-Caucasian descent, something his detractors tried to capitalise on. Donald Trump, he said, was in the forefront of those capitalising on his second name Hussein, which was not an Anglo-Saxon name, to convince the electorate that he was not fit to lead the US.

“It became incumbent on Obama to realise Martin Luther King’s dream,” Ghori said.

Tracing Obama’s rise to the top, he said Obama started life as a social reformer in 1982. Then, he said, he started lecturing at the University of Chicago Law School.

The most striking thing about him was his consensus politics, he said. “He talked of the world as it was and not as he would have liked it to be,” said Ghori.

He said that Obama was seen as the harbinger of change, especially by the youth.

He dubbed Donald Trump as Obama’s antithesis and a “bull in a China shop”.

In reply to a question, he said that perhaps his greatest achievement was Obamacare. Twenty million Americans, he said, were brought within the net of free healthcare. 

“Twenty-million is no small number,” he said. This was all the more admirable, he said, given the fact that the US was the cradle of diehard capitalism and Obamacare went against the corporate interests of insurance companies which were reaping a bonanza from the healthcare premiums of the citizens. “This was the nearest the US ever came to the welfare state, something that Trump is intent on dismantling.”

However, dwelling on success eluding him, he said that Obama tried and promised to shut the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp but could not succeed.

He also could not succeed in stopping the construction of 55,000 new housing units by Israel in the occupied territories. This, he said, was on account of the excruciating pressure from the Republican House.

At a lecture at the Cairo University, Ghori said, Obama promised to mitigate the gap between the Islamic and the non-Islamic worlds, but the gap was still there.

He said his detractors were blaming him for slipping the US manufacturing jobs overseas, but Obama was not to blame; it was the US multinational corporations that were intent on making a mark where they had never existed and that explained the success of the General Motors in China.

He also said there were 500 drone raids on Pakistan during his tenure. However, he said, Obama wanted to be a peace builder.

He said things in the near future would be getting uglier as a highly anti-Islam person was Trump’s closest adviser in the White House.

The talk was followed by an animated question-answer session.

The proceedings had to be conducted in virtual darkness as, according to the organizers, electricity had gone out at 11am and the K-Electric had promised that power would be restored “within two hours” but it had not been restored till 5:30pm.

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