Al Qaeda planning attacks from Pakistan safe haven: Obama (Second lead)

March 27th, 2009 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 27 (IANS) Warning that Al Qaeda was planning attacks on the US from its safe haven in Pakistan, President Barack Obama Friday unveiled a new strategy to destroy the terrorist outfit.

“Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that Al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the US homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan,” he said announcing the strategy for Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan, where the situation is getting “increasingly perilous”.

Declaring that the US must “disrupt, defeat and dismantle” the Al Qaeda terrorist organization and the Taliban in the two countries, Obama also said that it’s important for the American people to understand that Pakistan “needs our help” in going after terrorists.

He said Islamabad would get no “blank cheque”, but called on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar authorising “$1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years -resources that will build schools, roads, and hospitals and strengthen Pakistan’s democracy”.

He also urged Congress to pass a bipartisan bill “that creates opportunity zones in the border region to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued by violence. And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part - including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month”.

Announcing plans for an increased American troop presence in Afghanistan, Obama said: “The terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban or allows Al Qaida to go unchallenged, “that country will be a base for terrorists who want to kill us”.

Obama said he is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists. The troops - which are in addition to the 17,000 the president announced earlier would be sent to Afghanistan - will be charged with training and building the Afghan Army and police force.

“It’s an international security challenge of the highest order,” he said, noting 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for US forces in Afghanistan in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. “The safety of people around the world is at stake.”

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