Pakistan Lashes Back at Clinton
- Pakistan Lashes Back at Clinton:
by Farhan Bokhari
(AP Photo/Mansoor Ahmed)Pakistani officials reacted angrily Thursday night to U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's remarks earlier in the day in which she said, she found it "hard to believe" that no one in Pakistan's government, including the country's "military security establishment," knew where al Qaeda leaders were hiding.
Left: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is escorted by Pakistani Rangers at the Iqbal Memorial in Lahore, Pakistan, Oct. 29, 2009. Clinton is on a three-day state visit to Pakistan.
The controversy could overshadow Clinton's first visit to the country as Secretary of State, especially as her remarks will be seen questioning the sincerity of the influential military, Pakistani officials said.
"If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together" then "there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and with your military security establishment," Clinton was quoted telling senior Pakistani journalists in Lahore. "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they (al Qaeda leaders) are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," she said.
Pakistani officials said Clinton's remarks on the "military security establishment" probably referred to the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the counterespionage agency.
In the past, Western officials, including U.S. officials, have claimed that the ISI has nurtured Islamic militants to stage proxy insurgency campaigns on the country's behalf in India's mountainous Kashmir region and in Afghanistan.
A senior Pakistani government official who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity late Thursday night said, Clinton's remarks will likely provoke some reaction from key military leaders who increasingly see the U.S. as insensitive to the army's ongoing campaign against Taliban militants in the south Waziristan region.
"How can the U.S. at this time be so insensitive for Mrs. Clinton to speak out in public in this way," asked the Pakistani government official. "These remarks suggest a very high degree of insensitivity." However, Western diplomats said Clinton's trip following the recent Kerry-Lugar bill passed by the U.S. Congress which triples U.S. aid to Pakistan to an annual of $1.5 billion over the next five years, was likely to enhance U.S. influence in the country.
"The U.S. position will become stronger if the money begins flowing in. While there will be heart-burning among segments of the Pakistani government, the U.S. will remain a very influential country," a Western diplomat in Islamabad told CBS News.
Hit terror more aggressively, says Hillary
Pakistan to take off like rocket if ties with India normalise'; GCU students grill US official
LAHORE: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Thursday that Pakistan had little choice but to take a more aggressive approach to combating the Taliban and other insurgents that threaten to destabilise the country.
With the country reeling from Wednesday's devastating bombing in Peshawar, Clinton engaged in an intense give-and-take with students at the Government College of Lahore, insisting that inaction by the government would have ceded ground to terrorists.
"If you want to see your territory shrink, that's your choice," she said, adding that she believed it would be a bad choice.Dozens of students rushed to line up for the microphone when the session began. Their questions were not hostile, but showed a strong sense of doubt that the US can be a reliable and trusted partner for Pakistan.
Clinton met with the students on the second day of a three-day visit to Pakistan, her first as secretary of state. Clinton likened Pakistan's situation with Taliban forces to a theoretical advance of terrorists into the United States from across the Canadian border.
It would be unthinkable, she said, for the US government to decide "let them have Washington (state)" first, then Montana, then the sparsely populated Dakotas, because those states are far from the major centres of population and power on the East Coast.
Clinton was responding to a student who suggested that Washington was forcing Pakistan to use military force on its own territory. It was one of several questions from the students that raised doubts about the relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
During her hour-long appearance at the college, Clinton stressed that a key purpose of her three-day visit to Pakistan, which began on Wednesday, was to reach out to ordinary Pakistanis and urge a better effort to bridge differences and improve mutual understanding.
"We are now at a point where we can chart a different course," she said, referring to past differences over an absence of democracy in Pakistan and Pakistani association with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
As a way of repudiating past US policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students "there is a huge difference'' between the Obama administration's approach and that of former president George W Bush.
"I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him,'' she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students. "So, to me, it's like daylight and dark.''Although Clinton said she was making a priority of engaging frankly and openly on her visit, she declined to talk about a subject that has stirred some of the strongest feelings of anti-Americanism here US drone aircraft attacks against extremist targets on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border. "There is a war going on,'' she said, adding the US wants to help Pakistan be successful.
Clinton repeated her conviction that the two countries' common interests far outweighed their differences. "I am well aware that there is a trust deficit," Clinton said. "My message is that's not the way it should be. We cannot let a minority of people in both countries determine our relationship."
Clinton urged Pakistan's youth to stand firm against the forces of religious extremism, saying it threatened everything that both Americans and Pakistanis hold dear. She said, "Though the terror war is being fought on your (Pakistan) land, but it is not Pakistan's war alone; Pakistan is fighting on the front and the US stands by it."
She observed if peace was restored between Pakistan and India and their mutual disputes were resolved, Pakistan would take off as a rocket in terms of economic development.
Before leaving for Lahore, Clinton covered her head and chest with a royal blue scarf to visit the shrine of a Sufi saint in Islamabad. Accompanied by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Clinton closed her eyes and pressed her fingers together in prayer, then gave alms to the needy at the Bari Imam mausoleum.
Nawaz urges Hillary to remove reservations over aid bill
By our correspondent
LAHORE: PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday, stressed the need for establishing Pak-US ties on the basis of mutual trust.
He said that Pakistan had been an important ally of the US and the two countries had cooperated on many key global issues. The US secretary of state tried to do away PML-N leaders' reservations over the Kerry-Lugar Law, saying the US realised the reservations of the people of Pakistan. "That was why the US government had issued an explanatory note on it," she added.
She appreciated Pakistan government's role in the war on terror, saying the US knew that Pakistan had suffered a lot economically. She said the objective behind the US aid was to strengthen Pakistan financially and help it in building its civil infrastructure.
She claimed that the US wanted democracy to strengthen in Pakistan. She clarified that they did not have any intention to question the integrity and solidarity of the country and hurt the feelings of its people through the Kerry-Lugar Law.
Nawaz was of the opinion that the people of Pakistan had reservations over some sections of the KLL and they were expecting that the US would amend such conditions. He urged Hillary Clinton to remove the reservations of the Pakistani people over the KLL.
He appreciated President Obama's policy of dialogue and engagement with all countries, especially the Muslim world, which he believed would help foster understanding, reduce tension and facilitate resolution of regional and global issues.
President Obama, Nawaz recalled, had stressed during his election campaign that the US should work towards promoting normalisation of relationship between Pakistan and India and facilitating resolution of the Kashmir issue. This now needs to be given an official shape, he said, adding any US initiative towards achieving this objective would be welcomed by the people of Pakistan.
Nawaz also appreciated Clinton's interest in encouraging American investment in Pakistan, especially in the power and energy sectors. Nawaz was accompanied by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali, Ishaq Dar and Khwaja Asif. Richard Holbrooke, Anne W Patterson and others accompanied the secretary of state.Online adds: The Rah-e-Nijat operation, the Kerry-Lugar Law, Pak-Us ties, the regional situation and other issues were discussed during Nawaz-Clinton meeting, sources told Online.
The former premier told Clinton that Pakistan was in a state of war and it was in dire need of help from the international community. The US would have to understand situation of the region, he said.
Demanding halt to the US drone strikes in the country's tribal areas, Nawaz said, such strikes were causing negative impact on the government's efforts in the war against terrorism. He said his party was fully supporting the government in the operation. He demanded of the US to transfer drone technology to Pakistan.
Arrogant U.S. Misses the Message From Pakistan's People
By William Pfaff
Oct 27, 2009
There has always been in American foreign policy circles a virus called arrogance, caused by the hereditary assumption that Americans know better than others. Surprisingly, this does not always prove the case, but the condition seems highly resistant to treatment, even by experience.
There seems a high probability that the disease has struck Obama administration policy circles dealing with Pakistan. (We will leave aside the case of American relations with Afghanistan.) This administration came to office with a conviction that the Afghanistan problem is a problem because it actually is a Pakistan problem, Pakistan being a large country possessing nuclear weapons and a great many Pashtuns, who are the people from whom Taliban are recruited.
Afghanistan is a country with one-sixth Pakistan's population, with a great many Pashtuns too, harboring only a 100 or so members of al-Qaida (if we are to believe the American national security adviser, Gen. James Jones) whereas popular opinion in Washington is that Pakistan is rife with them, and the country on its way to becoming a "breeding ground" for terrorists who wish to invade the West, blow it up with nuclear weapons obtained from Pakistani stocks, and establish a new global terrorist caliphate amid the ruins.
It is unknown whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visiting Pakistan this week, shares so alarmed a view, but she will hear a lot about the damage American pressures are doing to Pakistan, and how fearful the Pakistan populace is, not of the Taliban and al-Qaida, but of the United States.
According to a New York Times article this week, from Jane Perlez in Islamabad, the new fighting there against Islamists "has pleased the Americans, but it left large parts of Pakistan under siege, as militants once sequestered in the country's tribal areas take their war to Pakistan's cities. Many Pakistanis blame the United States for the country's rising instability."
A recent and serious poll found that 11 percent of the Pakistani respondents say that al-Qaida is the greatest threat to Pakistan today, 18 percent said India, and 59 percent said the United States. This was in August, before the most recent offensives of the Pakistan army against the Islamists in Waziristan and the Swat Valley, and the retaliatory city bombings that subsequently have taken place.
A vocal part of the Pakistan population clearly doesn't want the United States in the country, and it doesn't even want the aid the United States is sending. A notorious fact in the past has been that civilian and popular opposition to the U.S. was based on the assumption that American aid was meant to keep military governments in place and buy military cooperation with American policy.
This time, it's the Pakistani army that doesn't want the $7.5-billion aid package that the Obama administration has put together; the aid is denounced as meant to interfere in the country's internal affairsas indeed it is.
The civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari, generally thought to be put in place by Washington, "is seen as slavishly pro-American (as well) as unable to cope" with the current situation. (I am again quoting Jane Perlez.)
The country's interior minister was hit with stones by students when he visited the International Islamic University last week, and in retaliation the government closed all the schools and universities in Punjab, the most populous province (supposed to reopen Monday, Oct. 26), "a move that affected Pakistani families like never before."
To judge from the public statements of Obama counselors, Pakistan is seen as the great danger in the region, with erratic politics and nuclear weaponsand an active Islamist revolt thereby having the potential to create (according to Obama's adviser Bruce Riedel), "the most serious threat to the United States since the end of the cold war."
This would seem why the U.S. wants a government under its thumb to compel the army to fight the Islamists on their home territory even if this alienates the army and sows hatred of America. Is it not possible to allow Pakistan, which has a solid civil service and an excellent army, to act in defense of its own security rather than let the U.S. impose its own ideas?
Is it not imaginable that they know better than the Americans? Would Americans appreciate a Pakistan army installed in Washington, instructing the United States in how to conduct its own foreign policy in ways that suit Pakistan's national interests?
Visit William Pfaff's Web site at www.williampfaff.com.
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