8 Nov : Sending a strong message to Pakistan, President Barack Obama made it clear that terrorist “safe havens” within its borders are “unacceptable” and asked it to bring terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks to justice.
“…We will continue to insist to Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe-havens within their borders are unacceptable, and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice,” the President said in his 35-minute address to members of both houses of Parliament on Monday.
Obama said India and the US were working together, more closely than ever, to counter terrorism.
Noting that the US’ strategy to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates has to succeed on both sides of the border, Obama said that is why the US has worked with the Pakistani government to address the threat of terrorist networks in the border region.
“The Pakistani government increasingly recognizes that these networks are not just a threat outside of Pakistanthey are a threat to the Pakistani people, who have suffered greatly at the hands of violent extremists,” he said.
Paying rich tributes to the victims of the “barbaric” Mumbai attacks in 2008, Obama said he honours the memory of all those died in the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and the Mumbai carnage.
Obama said “We must also recognize that all of us have and interest in both an Afghanistan and a Pakistan that is stable, prosperous and democratic and none more so than India.”
Earlier in the day, Obama had pushed for resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue and even offered to play a role in resolving the issues if the two countries wanted.
In his speech to Parliament, Obama acknowledged India’s contributions in Afghanistan and said it has improved the lives of the Afghan people.
“We’re making progress in our mission to break the Taliban’s momentum and to train Afghan forces so they can take the lead for their security. And while I have made it clear that American forces will begin the transition to Afghan responsibility next summer, I have also made it clear that America’s commitment to the Afghan people will endure,” he said.
The US will not abandon the people of Afghanistan or the region “to the violent extremists who threaten us all.”
Obama backs India’s quest for permanent UNSC seat
President Barack Obama has announced support for India’s quest for permanent membership of a “reformed” UN Security Council (UNSC) “in the years ahead”, as he wrapped up his three-day state visit.
His widely-awaited endorsement of India joining the elite club of five permanent members of the UNSC came in the course of 35-minute address to members of both Houses of Parliament and was greeted with thunderous thumping of desks.
The announcement is seen as a diplomatic gesture although it was clear that the reform of the Security Council is going to be a long and tedious process.
With that in mind, Obama pointedly used the expression “in the years ahead”.
Addressing the gathering that included Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Cabinet Ministers and Sonia Gandhi, Obama said that as two global leaders, the US and India can partner for global security, especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years.
“Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate. That is why I can say today in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” he said.
The US has so far been reticent in expressing support for India’s candidature while other permanent members of the Security Council — Russia, France and Britain — have been forthcoming. China, the fifth permanent member, is still non-committal.
Obama’s support was accompanied by a set of suggestions to India that it must take positions on issues, like human rights violations in Myanmar.
“Now, let me suggest that with increased power comes increased responsibility. The UN exists to fulfill its founding ideals of preserving peace and security, promoting global cooperation and advancing human rights.
“These are the responsibilities of all nations, but especially those that seek to lead in the 21st century. So, we look forward to working with India, and other nations that aspire to Security Council memmbership to ensure that the Security Council is effective; that resolutions are implemented and sanctions; and that we strengthen the international norms which recognise the rights and responsibilities of all nations and individuals,” he said.
Maintaining that it is the responsibility of international leaders like the US and India to condemn “gross violations of human rights” as happening in Myanmar.
While speaking on Iran’s nuclear programme, he said the US and India “can pursue” the goal of securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear material.
“We can make it clear that even as every nation has the right to peaceful nuclear energy, every nation must also meet its international obligation, and that includes the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.
Among other responsibilities which India will have to share, Obama talked about prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism and strengthening the “cornerstone” of the global non-proliferation regime — the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The US and several other countries have been pushing India to sign the NPT as part of strengthening the regime but New Delhi has been refusing to sign it, saying it was flawed.
Obama observed that “only Indians can determine India’s national interests and how to advance them on the world stage. But I stand before you today because I am convinced that the interests of the United States and the interests we share with India are best advanced in partnership.”