BY :TANVEER JAFRI : The US President Barack Hussein Obama was recently selected for the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 by the Prize Committee in Oslo. This biggest peace prize would be presented to Obama in Norway on 10th December later this year. This prize contains an amount of $1.5 million besides the medal. This award is given to Obama for his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that President Obama is imagining of a nuclear weapons free world. The way he has given importance to diplomacy over war is also commendable. The Committee felt that the world is impressed by these humanist and peaceful initiatives of Obama and has got a hope for a bright future. These unprecedented initiatives of Obama within his short tenure of nine months have really contributed towards changing the global image of USA to some extent.
Just after the announcement of Obama’s name for prize, the debate started in the entire world. While the people imagining a peaceful world are calling it a good decision, there is no dearth of people criticising the decision. Critics are saying that just to talk about peace is not enough. There should be substantial, creative and consequential steps in this direction. Critics are of the view if Obama is talking about a nuclear free world, then what is the need to increase the aid of a country like Pakistan which is the centre of terrorism. If this is an attempt to improve his image among the Muslim nations, then why Obama’s stand is not clear on the most disputed issue of Palestine-Israel conflict. Critics feel that though Obama is a good orator and gives attractive speeches about establishing peace, but no result has yet come out of his initiatives.
The question is whether the critics’ view is justifiable. To understand this, if we compare Obama’s short tenure of nine months with his predecessor George Bush’s tenure of 8 years, then it would be clear whether Obama really deserves Nobel or not. People have still in mind the post-9/11 declaration of Bush, when he said that there are just two ways for the world community. Either they are with me (USA) or with them (Taliban/Al Qaeda). The world must have memories of the concept of the “Clash of Civilisations” between Islam and Christianity, which strengthened during the Bush regime. The world also witnessed closely, the illegal intrusion of American forces in Iraq. While the world was worried by the ever deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was equally concerned for an eventual attack on Iran by the Bush administration.
But today, just after nine months tenure of Obama administration, the peace loving people of the world are at least sure that there would not be another Afghanistan or Iraq during Obama regime, notwithstanding Obama’s current way of rectifying blunders of previous administration. Rejecting the concept of “Clash of Civilisations” during the historical speech in Cairo earlier this year, when Obama started with “as-salaamun- alay-kum”, the world understood about his intentions. The US, which is proud of its weapons, nobody had ever imagined that the President of that country would ever talk about nuclear weapons free world. But Obama has created a hope by talking about his ambition.
As far as the aid to Pakistan is concerned, undoubtedly Pakistan has repeatedly diverted such aid for promoting and exporting terrorism to neighbouring countries such as India. This is not just an allegation by the Indian leaders and officers, in fact this is confessed by the former Pak President Parvez Musharraf too. But for the present aid, the US has put a system in place for continuously monitoring the expenditure of aid and this should also be taken into account by the critics. Even though, Pakistan spread terrorism since long time, the same terrorism is today out of control of the state of Pakistan and has become headache for the entire world. In this situation, if America is funding Pakistan for fighting terrorists like Taliban, it should be assumed as a step for the purpose of establishing peace by eliminating terrorism.
Regarding the argument that Nobel Peace Prize should be given for actions and not just for talks, this argument is not sustainable because the person who has largely changed the image of America within nine months of his tenure, the world should certainly have expectations from such person. In response to the hand of peace extended by Obama, countries like Iran and North Korea too should reply in same manner. All the Muslim countries should also shun the anti-American glasses and accept the present day as truth and cooperate with Obama in building a peaceful world.
American people too deserve compliments for their power of vote through which they elected Barack Hussein Obama as first non-white President of the US, who has, for the time being, changed the atmosphere of the world by calling for world peace and nuclear disarmament.