Obama aide calls apology the right decisionBy Lalit K Jha Feb 24, 2012 - 12:11
WASHINGTON (PAN): A top aide on Thursday defends President Barack Obama’s decision to apologise to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai for the desecration of the Quran at the Bagram Airbase in central Parwan province.
“It is wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities. His primary concern as commander-in-chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan…” the White House press secretary said.
“It was absolutely the right thing to do,” Jay Carney told reporters after US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker delivered Obama’s letter of apology to President Karzai.
Newt Gingrich, the former US House of Representatives speaker, criticised Obama’s decision. “It is an outrage that Obama is the one apologising to President Karzai on the same day two American troops were murdered and four others injured by an Afghan soldier.”
It was Karzai who owed the American people an apology, not the other way around, Gingrich believed. “This destructive double standard whereby the United States and its democratic allies refuse to hold accountable leaders who tolerate systematic violence in their borders must come to an end.”
But Carney stressed no politics should be seen into the presidential apology. “The message that we’re trying to convey here is that this was inadvertent. We take it very seriously. There is an ISAF investigation...”
He said there was an investigation going on to find out exactly what happened. “The inappropriate handling of these materials was inadvertent, but sensitivities here are ones that we understand and …. the actions do not reflect the great respect that our military personnel have for the religious traditions of the Afghan people.”
Carney added: “I would note that one of my predecessors, Dana Perino, , following an incident in which an American serviceman apparently shot or did damage to the Quran in 2008, she expressed apologies on behalf of the president. And that’s appropriate for the same reason…”