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Afghanistan, Pakistan Congratulate Obama on Nobel Peace Prize

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The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan separately congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama Friday for winning the prestigious 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee's announcement comes as Mr. Obama considers whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Hamed Elmi, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, tells VOA that his country wants to congratulate President Obama.

"We hope by this award he received, he can work hard and bring peace to our country Afghanistan," he said.

The U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces are facing a strong Taliban insurgency, which threatens to derail international efforts for a stable democracy in Afghanistan.

This year has been the deadliest since the U.S.-led invasion of the country eight years ago.

When President Obama took office in January, he announced his new policy that would focus on a more regional approach to the conflict in Afghanistan and a focus on protecting civilians and increasing support for the government.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has congratulated President Obama for winning the peace prize.

The country's former Information Minister, and a senior member of the ruling party, Sherry Rehman tells VOA she hopes the award will encourage the U.S. president to focus on bringing peace to South Asia, especially regarding Pakistan and India's conflict over Kashmir.

"It would be an unprecedented effort if he is able to initiate it and bring the Indians to the table to sort out one of Pakistan's oldest concerns, the Kashmir issue," said Rehman.

Peace talks between the two nations over Kashmir have been suspended since last year's terrorist attack on India's commercial capital, Mumbai.

India blames the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the three-day siege that killed 166 people. New Delhi maintains that it will not resume peace talks until Islamabad brings those responsible to justice.

In recent months, high-level Indian and Pakistani officials have met on the sidelines of international meetings, but have been unable to restart the peace process.