US President wants stability in Pakistan
The Nation, Pakistan, February 3, 2009
WASHINGTON (APP) - US President Barack Obama has said his administration wants to make sure that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for al-Qaeda and that the insurgency-hit country does not destabilise its nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan.
Obama told NBC in an interview aired Monday that his administration is for having clear objectives in Afghanistan and wants to fix the drift that occurred there over the last two years. “We are not gonna be able to rebuild Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy.”
“What we can do is make sure that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for al-Qaida. What we can do is make sure that it is not destabilising neighboring Pakistan, which has “ nuclear weapons.
“The key is ... we’ve got to have a clear objective. And there’s been drift in Afghanistan over the last couple of years. And that’s something that we intend to fix this year,” he said in response to questions about the US objectives in Afghanistan in view of historical challenges and amid suggestions of additional US troops deployment in that country.
Obama’s remarks clearly indicated his administration’s emphasis on setting clear US goals in Afghanistan, where security has been deteriorating in the face of a growing Taliban insurgency over the last two years.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who told a Congressional hearing last week that the US should set realistic objectives in Afghanistan, is expected to apprise President Obama of troops surge proposal later Monday.
In the interview, Obama also defended his decision to order closure of controversial US military detention in Guantanamo Bay, saying it is “the right thing to do. It ultimately will make us safer. You’ve already seen in the reaction around the world “ a different sense of America by us taking this action.”
Asked how he would deal with the question if upon release some of the detainees take part in attacks against the United States, Obama said he is going to focus on all aspects and ensure American security by making best judgments.
“Of course I’m worried about it. Look, you know, I have to make the very best judgments I can make in terms of what’s gonna keep the American people safe and is what’s gonna uphold our Constitution and our traditions of due process ... If we don’t uphold our Constitution and our values, that over time that will make us less safe. And that will be a recruitment tool for organisations like al-Qaida. That’s what I’ve gotta keep my eye on.”