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Secretary Clinton in Pakistan *UPDATED Video*

October 28, 2009








Secretary Clinton’s day is almost winding down in Islamabad.

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Secretary Clinton in Pakistan Wed. October 28, 2009

From CNN:

The U.S. secretary of state arrived Wednesday in nuclear-armed Pakistan, a country hit hard by terrorism, economic crisis and rising sentiment that it is paying too high a price for its partnership with the United States in fighting extremists.

Secretary Hillary Clinton is expected to meet with top Pakistani officials, including president Asif Ali Zardari, but a major challenge during this visit is to convince Pakistanis that the U.S. wants a partnership that goes beyond fighting Al Qaeda and other extremist groups.

Talking with reporters en route to Pakistan, Clinton said she wants to “turn the page” on what has been, in the past few years, “primarily a security-anti-terrorist agenda.”

“We hold that to be extremely important, and it remains a very high priority,” she said. “But we also recognize that it is imperative that we broaden our engagement with Pakistan.”

Clinton said there have been “a lot of misconceptions” about American intentions.

“We have a relationship that we want to strengthen, but we don’t want it to be lopsided. We don’t want it to be just about security and just about our anti-terrorist agenda,” she said.

Clinton said there has been “real progress in creating a base of trust that we are going to build on, but it is still a relatively short period of time. Nine months is not a lot of time to turn around a relationship that has a lot of scars to it … there’s just a lot of scar tissue.”

Clinton denied the recently enacted Kerry-Lugar foreign aid bill, which gives Pakistan $7.5 billion over five years, sets conditions on Pakistan that impinge on its sovereignty.

“They are not conditions on Pakistan so much as they are metrics for measuring whether we think our aid is being productive,” she said.

Pakistan has several dozen nuclear weapons, and Clinton said she will discuss nuclear proliferation while in Pakistan. “We do believe the arsenal is safe,” she said, but we do worry about proliferation.”

Clinton also praised Pakistan’s military operations under way in South Waziristan. “We believe that what the Pakistanis are doing in standing up to extremism in Pakistan is in our national security interest.

“I think it’s important for Americans and others to recognize the high price the Pakistanis are paying,” she said.

U.S. officials earlier this year publicly doubted the government’s resolve. But Clinton, in two interviews with Pakistani television networks released as she arrived, she said the operation in South Waziristan “appears to be a very well-planned and implemented effort to go after those who threaten Pakistan.”

Here is a transcript of her interview with Dawn TV:

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say how pleased I am that I will be in Pakistan for my fifth visit. I came as First Lady, three times as a senator. This is my first time as a Secretary of State, but I am so looking forward to returning. And I want to help turn the page on the past in our relationship, and for me that’s not only about our government-to-government relationship, but people-to-people, where we look at each other as fellow human beings, where we learn from each other, we listen and really take in what are the experiences and the perspectives that the other brings. I am a very strong believer that that is part of what we’re trying to do in the Obama Administration. And both President Obama and I have Pakistani friends, Pakistan American friends, have a great affection and admiration for the culture and people. And what we want is to set our relationship on a firmer foundation.

So I share your hope that for a Pakistani here in the United States, or for an American in Pakistan, we will not have these misconceptions and these stereotypes that stand in the way of us seeing each other clearly. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything will be perfect because we are two different peoples, two different nations. We have different expectations. But we can clear away a lot of the underbrush and begin to work closely together.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think by greater awareness, by doing what we are doing. For me, it is very important to recognize the sacrifice that the Pakistani people are making in this war against violent extremism. More Pakistanis have been killed, more civilians have been oppressed or intimidated, very brave military and government officials have lost their lives in this struggle that is a common struggle. And I think if we can begin to put it more in that context and recognize that the United States and Pakistan really do have a lot in common and it’s not only about the war against these violent extremisms. What do people in Pakistan want? Good jobs, good healthcare, good education for our children, energy that is predictable and reliable – the kinds of everyday needs that are really at the core of what Americans want. And the more we can draw those similarities, even though, of course, there will be differences, but let’s narrow the area of difference so that we can see how much more we have in common. That will begin to dissipate the fear.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think there may be three reasons for that, Anwar. One might very well be that it’s person-to-person. It’s not something that is part of a government policy. It is what you feel – and thank you for saying that, because I obviously believe Americans are really hospitable and warm and friendly and want to work with people and think the best of people. But that is hard to convey through the screen of everything that’s going on in the world today. I think that, unfortunately, that kind of everyday experience doesn’t make headlines. It doesn’t lead the news. What does is the conflict or the disagreements or the problems.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am certainly making an effort. That’s why I talk about people-to-people diplomacy, because for me, being Secretary of State is not just going somewhere and sitting in a government office or a conference room talking across the table to my counterparts in the government. I want to get out. I’ve been doing this around the world, taking questions not just from the press of the country I’m visiting, but from the people of the country, looking for ways to experience the culture and show respect for that. I hope on this trip I will be able to start that ball rolling, so to speak, so that maybe some in your country will say, no, I really didn’t have a good opinion before, I thought it was all about are you going to be with us or against us on the war on terrorism, but this is a new day. That’s why we’re turning a new page. And I hope part of what I can convey on my trip is exactly that message.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, that is deeply, deeply regrettable and troubling to me, especially since I think both President Obama and I present such a different face of America to the world. And we certainly have tried to convey a very specific message that as we look at the world today, there is a small minority of people, as there have been at other points in history, who are bent upon destruction, not building up but tearing down. And it is in all of our interest to join together against those who have such a violent approach, who don’t really share the values about how we want people to live together and how we want people to prosper together. It would be my most fervent desire that people in Pakistan would see their incomes rise, would see their businesses improve, would have the opportunity to make the future better for their children and their grandchildren. That’s what I want for all people. I came into politics out of a really a sense of my love for children and what I think we should be doing to enable each child anywhere in the world to live up to his or her God-given potential.

Now, politics will always be with us, but let’s call it what it is. There are some people who don’t share our view about what should happen with your triplets or with my child or with the children across Pakistan and America. They want to hold them back. They want to deny girls education. They want to prevent women from having an opportunity for healthcare and a better life and to have the future unlimited for themselves and their children. They don’t want to bring some of the benefits of modern life so that jobs are more plentiful and people can have a better prosperity.

So let us work together on where we can agree. Will there be disagreements? We have disagreements in our own country. We have disagreements within different parts of America. That’s not going away. People see the world differently. But let’s resolve to overcome those differences in every way possible and not to allow the differences to interfere with the vast majority of what we agree on.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I think it doesn’t make news. I mean, the fact that I have good Pakistani friends going back to college, that I have very close Pakistani friends and Pakistani Americans are a big part of my life, that when Bill and I were in the White House our Pakistani friends would deliver Pakistani food so that we would enjoy —

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. And we – it’s nothing unusual. See, I don’t go around saying, “Oh look at me, I have Pakistani friends.” They’re my friends. They happen to be Pakistani. They are people who we talk about their children. I go to weddings. I’m in their homes. So maybe I need to do a better job, and that’s what I hope to do on this trip, in making that person-to-person connection. I love the food, I wear shalwar kameezas. I mean, I want people to know that I am no stranger to Pakistan or Pakistani culture. I feel very grateful that I have such good friends whose families are from Pakistan, who they go back to visit on a regular basis. I want that to come across because, to me, that is all about how I can be the best Secretary of State for my country.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Which I still don’t understand. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, but I – it’s not being forced to. I mean, give me a seekh kabob and some gow (ph) and I’ll be a happy person.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: People do recite poetry.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, and also even the music. Some of the music that’s coming out of Pakistan now, some of the cultural facts that I like, some of the dancing that is traditional which I have seen in my prior visits which I enjoy, looking at some of the work that I’ve done in the past. I remember when Chelsea and I were there. My daughter had been studying Islamic history in her school here in Washington.

QUESTION: I remember. She was studying right from the Koran at the mosque here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. We went to the Faisal mosque and had a really significant visit. I went to the Islamabad college for women and spent time in the cafeteria talking to the young women, listening to what they had to say. I visited a village in Lahore where I sat on the ground with a lot of the women of the village, and I heard them say to me what I could hear anywhere in America: I want my children educated, I want good healthcare for my children. So I feel such a sense of connection because of the fortunate experience I’ve had going all the way back to my college years of knowing people who love their country of Pakistan.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) So when you go to Pakistan, will you make an effort to connect with that (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I do intend to make such an effort. And one of my Pakistani friends explained it to me in saying that our Islam is not what is being portrayed in the world media. And I want to do more to send that message back to the United States. And he also said that some of what has happened is that it’s almost as though there’s been a tumor injected into the Pakistani body, and it is a tumor that comes from outside of Pakistan, outside of Pakistan’s traditions, it is foreign to the body just as a tumor is foreign to the functioning of the body, and that people need to understand that the Pakistani people are fighting against that tumor. The very courageous efforts by your military, first in Swat, now in Waziristan, are to eject that foreign body, because it has unfortunately polluted some of the very good and positive features that are really part of what Pakistan is. I thought that was a fascinating description. I mean, I was born in the same year that Pakistan was born, and I —

QUESTION: 1947.

SECRETARY CLINTON: 1947.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. Thank you. Today happens to be my birthday. And so I know how difficult it has been for the Pakistani people to really understand what is being done to them. It is a foreign influence that has to be rejected. And the vast majority of Pakistanis reject it. The government is working to eliminate it, and we want to be your partner in making sure that the true character of Pakistan is conveyed.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Benazir Bhutto was a friend of mine, someone whom I liked and admired so much and whose loss was not only a terrible loss for Pakistan but for the world. In a democracy, someone has to win and someone has to lose. I am old enough that I have lived through a number of different administrations in my own country. Some presidents I approved of. Some presidents I did not approve of. But democracy has to be more than just about personality. It has to be about building strong institutions. And clearly, there has to be checks and balances on any president, no matter who that president might be. But there are certain principles that should be sustainable through presidents you like and presidents you may have questions about. And I think that’s really all that we were intending to say is that to build the kind of strong, sustainable democracy that Pakistanis tell me they want, there has to be institution building.

But we’ve made it very clear that in Kerry-Lugar we’re not putting conditions on the Pakistani Government, we’re putting conditions on ourselves in evaluating our aid, like we do with the vast majority of our aid programs where we say are we getting what we would say is the kind of return on our investment that we would like to see. But the Pakistanis have their own ability to make decisions that they believe are obviously in the Pakistani interest. We respect territorial and sovereign capacity of Pakistan. Their sovereignty has to be respected. So we want to be a partner, not to in any way dictate but to assist. And that’s what we’re attempting to do.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope not. And I will be discussing that directly, as have other representatives of our government, both our Administration and the Congress, because that was certainly not the intention. We are providing a great deal of support to the Pakistani military in their courageous fight against the violent extremists, so we certainly want to have a positive relationship and there’s been a lot of outreach between the leaders of our military and the leaders of the Pakistani military and there seems to be a good base for cooperation between our militaries. So we do very much value the partnership and support that we are giving to the Pakistan military, and I hope that that will be the real story that comes out.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have been trying to accelerate our assistance for the Pakistani military. We both have bureaucracies. We know how it is sometimes that things get delayed or they’re slower than we want, but we’re really trying to accelerate everything we can to help the Pakistani military.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is a 100 percent. We believe that what the Pakistani military has done is in the best interest of Pakistan. It also is a conflict that we believe Pakistan has to win for Pakistan’s future.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is a risk, but I have a lot of confidence in the Pakistani military. I think that this is a very well thought out and well executed military campaign. We saw the success in Swat, and I think we’re seeing the results of this effort in Waziristan.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t discuss intelligence, but we are doing all that we can to be helpful to the Pakistani military.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I think if one looks carefully at those provisions, they’re mostly about what our Defense Department is expected to do. They’re not really any kind of condition or restriction on the Pakistani military. But I do think it’s fair to point out that when the United States taxpayers provide money to any military, which we do in many places around the world, it is supposed to be for certain missions. I mean, there are many areas where a nation’s military would be proceeding on its own because something was very much in their own self-interest which we do not partner on, but where we partner there is a back and forth about what we can do to be helpful.

And that’s what we’re trying to do, and I think that the way that we’re supporting Pakistan is really unprecedented because we’re supporting not only the military, we’re trying to support the civilian side, because we very much admire what the military is doing in this fight against violent extremism, but we also want to help the government and the people of Pakistan with energy, electricity, job creation, education – the kinds of things that people who may not live in Waziristan but may live in Karachi or Lahore are saying, well, what’s in this for me, what am I going to get out of the relationship. And we want it to be a comprehensive strategic relationship.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s really a QUESTION that is hard to answer because a lot of military equipment is fungible. I mean, it’s mobile. It can be used in different places. But what we see as the direct threat to Pakistan right now comes from the violent extremism. Obviously, we are hopeful that there will be a resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India, because I think the threat that Pakistan faces is a threat that could destabilize the entire region. And what we want to do is to help Pakistan really finally eliminate that threat. And what we hope is that on the ongoing challenges between India and Pakistan that that can be handled politically and it would never come to any kind of military action.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we’re just beginning to understand the best ways to fight that war. Clearly, those who are suicide bombers, who blow up military headquarters, who attack cricket players – I mean, what kind of life is that? What does that have to offer to anyone? So we do need to take them on and we need to take them on in the most effective possible fashion.

But we also know that if people can’t send their children to a good primary school, if there aren’t secondary schools for children to go to once they get out of primary school, if there is not the kind of future for the economy, well, that breeds a level of dissatisfaction and discontent that could be radicalized, not just in Pakistan but across the world. So the military response must go hand-in-hand with the political and the economic responses. So what we are trying to do is, in working with Pakistan, to integrate those so that people feel that it’s – our relationship is not just based on the immediate threat from the violent extremists, but that the United States wants to see a prosperous, peaceful future for Pakistan. And that goes to what we can do together to help people who are in need of the support that we want to offer.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a really important point, Anwar, because what I would like to see us do is to reach out more again to people culture-to-culture. I would like artists and academics to come from Pakistan to the United States, and I want more from the United States to go to Pakistan. I also think we should be using the internet. We should be using cell phone technology. Maybe we can’t have the physical presence that we would like in some places as we previously did. We can have the virtual presence. We can do much more through the media to counter some of the myths and the misperception. That’s really our responsibility. And a few weeks ago, our new public diplomacy under secretary, Judith McHale, was in Pakistan meeting with people, and she heard some of the criticism, like you’re not present, you’re not responsive, you don’t reach out again. And many people would say things like when I was in college or university there was much more free exchange between the United States and Pakistan. That seems to have diminished. We want to rebuild that.

And I think your point is a very strong one. We want people to see America in its fullness – the generosity of spirit, the fact that we have gone to war to protect Muslim lives many times in the last 15 years. We believe strongly that Islam is an extraordinary religion that deserves the support and the protection that should come with people being able to stand up and say I’m a proud Muslim and I’m a proud Pakistani and I am in favor of peace and coexistence. I mean, we want to see that. And we can’t leave the arena to the extremists who intimidate and oppress people.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Morocco and Tunisia were among the very first countries to recognize us.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right, right.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I hope that nothing. I hope that we’re going to be much more effective. I can’t speak for the past because I wasn’t in this position, but we’ve done some very good series here in the United States which you may have seen about Muslims in America. I would love to have those translated and shown on television in Pakistan. I would like for people to know on a person-to-person basis that not only have we had mosques that go back hundreds of years in our country, but we have a very vibrant Muslim community in America. It represents every aspect of our life. I have so many Muslim Americans who work for me.

QUESTION: But is there a fear of (inaudible) at home? Recently, there was a press conference on the Hill against Muslim Americans who (inaudible) and they also published a book saying that this is a conspiracy (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that was ridiculous, and I totally reject that. Now, I think because we both have big countries, we’re going to have people on the extremes in all walks of life, including in elected life, who say things that are just out of bounds. And they have to be rejected and they have to be absolutely repudiated.

But what we have to do is a better job of having the majority of Americans speaking to the majority of Pakistanis. And that’s what I hope to do. I hope this trip can be an important milestone in turning the page on our relationship so we are on a much stronger basis going forward.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very committed to improving trade. I support the reconstruction opportunity zone legislation. I went up and spoke to 52 senators a few days ago, stressing the importance of that legislation. So I’m going to do everything I can. And we want to help with some of the infrastructure issues that will assist the economy, like reliable, predictable electricity, like some of the roads and the ports and other kinds of infrastructure that will really lift up the Pakistani economy.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) What message are you taking (inaudible)? Did the President give you a message? Was there anything specific (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m taking not only the very warmest wishes of President Obama, who has a longtime personal connection to Pakistan and Pakistani friends, and I think in an interview with you he talked about how much he loves Pakistani food and even cooking it up from time to time. But I’m taking his hope with me that we can really break through some of the misperceptions, some of the stereotyping, misinformation that has plagued our relationship. Let’s get back to a really strong basis where we can work with one another, we will listen more closely to one another and consult and have this strategic partnership really build more into the future and create benefits for both of our people.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the President will have more to say about that. I don’t want to preempt my President, but I know how hard he’s working on it.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Good to see you.

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Secretary Clinton with Pakistan's Foreign Minister

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And then this horrible story was all over the internet and airwaves- a bomb went in Peshawar off just hours after the Secretary arrived:

A car bomb tore through a crowded market in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 57 people hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in the country to show American support for its campaign against Islamist militants.

More than 100 people were wounded in the blast in the main northwestern city of Peshawar, the latest in a surge of bloody attacks this month by suspected militants apparently aimed at denting public backing for an army offensive against al-Qaida and Taliban close to the Afghan border.

The blast set scores of shops on fire and sent a cloud of gray smoke over the city. TV footage showed wounded people sitting amid the debris as people grabbed at the wreckage, trying to pull out survivors. One two-story building collapsed as firefighters doused it with water.

Clinton, on her first visit to Pakistan as secretary of state, was three hours’ drive away in the capital of Islamabad when the blast took place. Speaking to reporters on her plane, she praised the army’s new anti-Taliban offensive in South Waziristan and promised a new era in relations between Pakistan and the United States.

The explosion was in a neighborhood home to many Shiite Muslims, who have often been targeted by Taliban and al-Qaida allied Sunni extremists. It hit a market reserved for families. Many of the dead were believed to be women.

Emergency room doctor Zafar Iqbal said 57 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded in what police said was a suspected car bombing.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Peshawar has been the target of three of 10 major bombings or raids blamed on Islamist militants this month…

Scary stuff, but I have faith in her security detail and believe that she will remain safe- she’s doing important work and going to areas that are not secure and I give her major props for that.

I will update later as I get more information. Hopefully photos (without the annoying copyright watermark!) and videos will be available later today.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. maddie permalink
    October 28, 2009 7:08 am

    Great read!

    Thanks, as usual.

  2. pcfs1 permalink
    October 28, 2009 12:04 pm

    Wonderful pictures and thanks for keeping us up-dated. Stay safe Madame Secretary.

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