Thursday, December 10, 2009

Text of Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations — that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people's children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia's nuclear stockpiles.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side.

And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities — their race, their tribe and, perhaps most powerfully, their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.
Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint — no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one's own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith — for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

So let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he's outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.
Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that — for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Al-Qaida is not the only group with global ambitions that we have to worry about

"The example of David Headley indicates, al-Qaida is not the only group with global ambitions that we have to worry about," said Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator, and Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, at the State Department.

The State Department official said Sunni radicals continue to succeed is in persuading religious extremists to adopt their cause, even in the United States.
"A bus driver, Najibullah Zazi, was trained in Pakistan and now faces charges in federal court for planning to set off a series of bombs in the United States, he said.
An indictment that was unsealed Monday in Chicago portrays an American citizen-David Headley-playing a pivotal role in last year's attack in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people and dramatically raised tensions in South Asia," he said.
So even if this radical movement is not mobilising the masses, it is still galvanising enough people to take to violence and poses a continuing, powerful threat, he noted.
The importance of these two cases should not be glossed over-the conspiracies these men were engaged in had roots in the FATA, and eight years after 9/11, should give us all pause. The threat to the US remains substantial and enduring despite the operational constraints on al-Qaeda central," Benjamin said.
He worked on terrorism in the White House when al-Qaeda first surfaced in the late 1990s. "I can tell you now, after having access to the intelligence again, that the threat has become far more complicated due to the proliferation of groups and the cross-pollination of networks.
The global radical milieu has become thicker. There is so much more that we have to keep tabs on than there was in 1999," he said.

Headley planned synchronised attacks on Jewish houses in India

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Obama believes Headley's indictment an 'important day'

"Obviously, I continue to say, and the president does too, that we have taken and will continue to take every step necessary to protect the American people. Today was an important day in doing that," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily press briefing.
Headley was charged by the FBI and the US department of justice for his involvement in the planning of the Mumbai terrorist attack that killed about 166 people, including half a dozen American nationals.

In documents filed before a Chicago court, federal prosecutors charged that Headley conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years prior to the 26/11 attacks by terrorists trained by militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pakistan is a nuclear state, hence has responsibilities: US

"As a nuclear state, Pakistan has enormous responsibilities within the community of nations that have nuclear weapons," National Security Adviser, General (retd) James Jones said while briefing foreign correspondents here.

Responding to a question, Jones said Pakistan is well aware of it (responsibilities of a nuclear state) and the US has been holding regular consultations on the issue with Islamabad.

"They are well aware of that. And we have regular consultations on those issues. I think the future of the Pakistan-US relationship is bright, and it transcends simply just problems associated with insurgents and nuclear weapons," he said.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Al-Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them

 As we know, these men belonged to al-Qaeda - a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorised the use of force against al-Qaeda and those who harboured them - an authorisation that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to 0. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 - the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al-Qaeda's terrorist network, and to protect our common security.

But while we have achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al-Qaeda's leadership established a safe haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it has been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces. Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al-Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to take control over swathes of Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating acts of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you - a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As president, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I have visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I have travelled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see first-hand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.

So no - I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicentre of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger, no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al-Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al-Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America's war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda's safe-havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al-Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them. 

Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of Nato's credibility - what's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who have argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

We will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan's democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

Let me be clear: none of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th Century, our effort will involve disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.

And we cannot count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we cannot capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.

We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. That is why I have made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to pursue the goal of a world without them. Because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever-more destructive weapons - true security will come for those who reject them.

Finally, we must draw on the strength of our values - for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That is why we must promote our values by living them at home - which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the moral source of America's authority.

America, we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. Thank you, God bless you, God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A two-page handwritten letter from Obama to his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari

Jones is learnt to have told the Pakistani leadership that 'if Pakistan cannot deliver, the US may be impelled to use any means at its disposal to rout insurgents based along Pakistan's western and southern borders with Afghanistan'.