Press Conference
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
En Route Islamabad, Pakistan
October 27, 2009


SECRETARY CLINTON: Why don’t we just say a few words. I hope you all can hear me. Obviously, I view this as a very important trip in our continuing effort to create a comprehensive relationship with Pakistan that covers a whole range of issues that are important to the people of Pakistan, important to the people of the United States, and to the greater region as well. We are turning a page on what has been in the last several years primarily a security anti-terrorist agenda. We hold that to be extremely important. It remains a very high priority. But we also recognize that it’s imperative that we broaden our engagement with Pakistan. That’s what Ambassador Holbrooke has been working on with his team to expand how we support the civilian government, how we deepen the military-to-military and intelligence-to-intelligence relationship.

So while I am in Pakistan, I will be having a number of official meetings with not only the president, the prime minister, and the foreign minister, but other ministers in the government, members of parliament of a number of parties, as well as meeting with the opposition, the Sharifs. I will also be doing a lot of public diplomacy and engagement and doing events with students, with women, with Pashtun elders, going to pay respect to some of the cultural places of significance in Pakistan. So it’s going to be a very, very broad survey of everything we are doing and some of the announcements that I will be making on the trip to further demonstrate that we want a long-term relationship with Pakistan. We believe we have a lot in common. We have areas of disagreement, obviously. We’re trying to narrow those and expand common ground that we both can take over together.

So it’s going to be a very intensive trip. We’ll be hitting the ground and immediately going into meetings. I’ll be going to Lahore the next day, back to Islamabad, so we’re going to have a very, very busy schedule. So with that, let me just throw it over to all of you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) it’s going to be (inaudible) the initiatives you’ll be relaying (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t, I can’t, because I don’t want to spoil the suspense about – (laughter). We will be making some announcements about some of the investments we’re making with Pakistan on the civilian side. It is going to be emphasizing the needs of the people of Pakistan. We have done a lot of consulting with people in Pakistan, and so like people everywhere, they want good jobs, they want to improve their incomes and their livelihoods, they want reliable electricity and energy so that they can maintain commercial enterprises and avoid the regular disruption of their electricity supply. They want education. They want healthcare.

Obviously, the current campaign in Waziristan is of great interest to us. We admire what the Pakistani military is doing in taking on this fight. We think it’s in the interest of Pakistan to do it. So we will be meeting and talking about really anything you can imagine on a broad strategic dialogue between our two countries.

QUESTION: What’s the message that --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) say publicly that you want to take on some of the anti-American propaganda.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) use this information (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s fair to say that there has been a lot of misconceptions about what the United States intends with our relationship with Pakistan. And I have given two interviews that were embargoed until I arrive in Pakistan with two of the leading television programs, and I will be doing intensive amounts of Pakistani media, not just English speaking but Urdu as well. We’re trying to reach more broadly into the society.

And I want to make clear that the United States and Pakistan have a long history of cooperation and partnership. 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, although, as I said, that’s our highest priority. So we want to strengthen democracy, we want to strengthen civilian institutions, which we think are in the best interest of the people of Pakistan.

And it is unfortunate that there are those who question our motives, perhaps are skeptical that we’re going to commit to a long-term relationship, and I want to try to clear the air on that (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. I mean, obviously, we were concerned by the opposition that was expressed to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation because it was legislation intended to exemplify this long-term relationship and to demonstrate our support for the kind of civilian priorities that the people in Pakistan have expressed their desire for. They want partners in infrastructure and in health and in education and energy. So we’ve been working very hard. We’ve sent a team of people – obviously, the experts on Richard’s staff, but also David Goldwyn, who is our international energy coordinator, has been out working with the Pakistanis; David Lipton from Larry Summers’ staff has been out working on the finance side of their challenges.

So when there was opposition expressed to Kerry-Lugar-Berman, obviously, Senator Kerry and Congressman Berman clarified (inaudible). We made the argument that when we do aid, we often say we have to have reporting. I mean, I do a lot of reporting. The Secretary of Defense does a lot of reporting. These aren’t conditions on Pakistan so much as they are metrics for measuring whether we think our aid is being productive. But I think that some of that was for political reasons, and I understand that. You have one party in power, you have an opposition party on the outside; there’s going to be a natural kind of give and take on a partisan basis. But I’ve been answering questions about it, and I intend to continue (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what is the message that you want to give to Pakistani authorities, both the civilian government and the military, at a time when they’re experiencing such violent backlash and 160 deaths this month as a result of their Waziristan campaign?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have consistently praised the Pakistani Government for making the decision and the Pakistani military for executing ever since they began their campaign in Swat. And I think that their commitment to going after the extremist threat, not just the attacks that have lost lives and damaged property, and going right at the institutions of the state, including the military and the ISI, pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and security of the Pakistani state.

But clearly, these people are allies in a network of terrorism that includes al-Qaida, and therefore we believe that what the Pakistanis are doing in standing up to extremism in Pakistan is in our national security interest. And I think it’s important for Americans and others to recognize the high price that the Pakistanis are paying. The civilian casualties, the military and police casualties obviously are very worrisome and tragic, and I think too often people outside of Pakistan don’t know or don’t acknowledge how hard this battle is.

QUESTION: There are reports that General Kiyani spoke to President Zardari yesterday, I guess, their time, and wanted him to press you about ISAF’s withdrawal from the Afghan side of the Waziristan border. They are concerned that that border is not being adequately protected (inaudible) the United States wants (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re certainly going to make sure that our military is communicating, as it has been, in a close consultation with the Pakistani military. One of the interviews that I did yesterday raised that question, and I said I would pass it on because I was not familiar with what the question was referring to, and we’re going to get some additional information.

QUESTION: But to the larger question with the Afghan decision pending, how can you on this trip, given the nexus between the issues – how do you deal with that if you haven’t made remarks about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, then I think we can make the point that the President’s been making. Number one, we remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan. We remain committed to a long-term partnership with Pakistan. What the President is doing is reviewing all the different options about how best to carry out those commitments, and he will make his views known when he decides to do so.

But I want to underscore with the Pakistanis that our commitment to Pakistan is very durable and very long term, but obviously there is much to be worked on between us. There is misunderstanding. There are sometimes miscommunications. And that’s what you do when you commit to a long-term relationship; you get up every day and you work on it. And that’s what we’re doing.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied (inaudible)?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, though, that General McChrystal is engaged in a very – he’s engaged in ongoing discussions with General Kiyani. I mean, he’s been to visit him in Islamabad. I know Admiral Mullen also speaks on a regular basis and visits General Kiyani. I know that they are open to any kind of information or strategic concerns that the Pakistanis have presented them. Obviously, the border is a concern to everyone. It’s a concern to people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to our troops. But I think that the strategy that General McChrystal is working on with General Kiyani really should be looked at as part of a higher approach. Now, it is true that because the border is porous people go back and forth. We have to do a better job and so do the Pakistanis, and eventually so do the Afghan security forces on securing their own borders.

So there’s a lot to discuss here, but I think it should be in the ordinary course of business. It’s not any kind of dramatic development. It’s just what’s the best way to achieve our mutual end.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mark, I don’t define it that way. My view is that we are engaged in a long-term effort. And I think that there are very few moments like we had in Zurich where something dramatic happened and it’s so evident. I think it is a slow, steady, wide diplomatic effort that (inaudible). And it’s also about the Pakistani people. It is not just about my relationship with the president or the general. It is what can we do to better communicate our intentions and our connections with the people of Pakistan.

As Joe and I were talking earlier, I had an incredible trip when I was First Lady. People still talk about it. And they talk about my daughter studying Islamic history in high school and the way she – the conversion of the Qur’an with the (inaudible). They talked about my going to the Islamabad College for Women and waiting in the cafeteria and sitting down and drinking cokes with young women sent a strong signal about the education of young women. They talked about my meeting with Benazir Bhutto.

And so people remember when we tried to do that, to kind of get out of the official-to-official, government-to-government syndrome, which I believe is not sufficient, especially if you’re trying to build a democracy. We have a democratically elected civilian government which has not been the easiest institution to protect and nurture in Pakistan. And part of what we want to do is really support the institutions – not personalities or parties, but institutions – and reach out to the people and begin to build more of a level of connection with them.

QUESTION: I understand, I think on Friday, one of the things that the U.S. (inaudible) discussing with Pakistani officials the extent to which (inaudible). Do you ever sense that (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re going to be talking about the campaign in Waziristan. Obviously, I want to hear an update about how the military effort is going. I’ll be meeting with some residents of the area who are going to come to see me since I cannot go there. I’ll be asking them what they think about the (inaudible). It will be a subject of conversation in practically every discussion. It’s really hard not to be – there is no doubt about it. And that’s why I give the Pakistani Government and military high marks for taking it on. That wasn’t what they were doing before.

And now that they have recognized the very clear threat that’s posed to their government and (inaudible) of their government, particularly the military and the ISI, they are extraordinarily committed. We just have to support them in any way we can.

QUESTION: So to follow up to that particular lead --

QUESTION: Is there any way that – do you believe that the Pakistan nuclear arms are safe? (Inaudible) bring up the issue (inaudible) talking about proliferation and (inaudible). Do you have some thing you want to talk about in regards to proliferation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we always talk about proliferation with everybody that I meet with, and we will certainly raise it with Pakistan because we do believe that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is safe, and we have a high degree of confidence in that according to our nuclear experts who are the monitors and watchdogs on that front. But we worry about proliferation, and we have good reason to worry about proliferation. In the past, certain elements and individuals within Pakistan were proliferators. Everybody knows that. So we want to encourage Pakistan to join with us in the nonproliferation review conference that will be held next spring. We want them to work with us on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. We want them to really understand how serious a threat we face. And I guess I couldn’t put it any more starkly than to say that we know al-Qaida and their related extremist allies are always on the hunt for nuclear material, and it doesn’t have to be a lot to create a very damaging explosion with extraordinary psychological and political ramifications.

So now that we see that the Pakistani military recognizes the threat posed, we want them also to imagine what that threat would be with a nuclear weaponized terrorist group in their midst. So it’s not just about what might happen in our country or in Europe. It’s what could happen in Pakistan and what the impact of that would be on their development, on their growth, on everything that they are working on.

Jill.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jill, for a very long time, I think many Pakistanis saw the increasing extremist threat in the FATA, in the (inaudible) border areas, as not about them. I mean, if you’re living in Karachi, it seems like a long way away, if you’re living in Lahore or Islamabad or Rawalpindi. And the major concerns were jobs and electricity and health and education, the kinds of things that people everywhere are concerned about.

But in the last year, with the very aggressive and blatant attacks that the extremists have been carrying out against targets that represent the state, like the general headquarters of the military, the people in Pakistan are very supportive of what their military is doing.

Now, there is some concern that the government may not be able to protect as many sites and settings like the college, the Islamic college that was attacked last week, which, of course, the government and military are trying to deal with. But the overall support for what they’re doing against the extremists is very high.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, I just wanted to –

QUESTION: One of the things that’s raised in the legislation (inaudible) things on which you have put forth, the Administration has put forth to Congress, is whether Pakistan is providing access to proliferators like A.Q. Khan and others. Is that something you feel like you’re (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re constantly gathering information. As I said, proliferation remains a very big issue for us because of the threat that it poses. We have raised all kind of concerns about A.Q. Khan going back a number of years. We will continue to raise those concerns. And if there is any evidence that is at all before us, we’re going to report it.

QUESTION: But specifically, it asks for actions, and they’ve asked for the Administration to report to Congress whether that action should be (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it either will be or it won’t be. And we’ll report – (laughter) – based on what happens.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, following up on Mark’s question, you were talking about how the Pakistani authorities recognize that the terrorist groups are a threat to their ISI and their military. Are you convinced that there is no more collaboration between the military and the ISI in assisting certain terrorist groups like Lashkar e-Tayyiba?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No.

QUESTION: You’re not convinced?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but I’m not unconvinced.

QUESTION: So where are you on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, we are constantly assessing that because it remains a concern to us. And I feel that the level of cooperation that we have received from the
Pakistani military and intelligence services has increased geometrically in the last nine months.

But I think you have to recognize that there is so – there are so many issues that have to be dealt with by the Pakistanis themselves, that we continue to raise issues. We prod. We are clearly pushing for the trials of the Mumbai attackers and planners to go forward. So we raise all of these issues. We are very much focused on them, because we see them as a threat to Pakistan, we see them as a threat to India, we see them as a threat to stability in the region. We don’t think it’s good for anybody.

QUESTION: Do you agree with Senator Kerry and (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but again, I think we have been really deeply engaged for about eight or nine months. With Ambassador Holbrooke and trilateral consultations and the one-on-one and mil-to-mil and ISI-to-CIA and all the other discussions that are going on. And I believe we have made real progress in creating a base of trust that we’re 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.

I mean, I have said publicly that we worked with the Pakistanis to create the Mujaheddin. The Soviet Union was pushed out of Afghanistan, and we left. And so there’s a lot of concern going back to the Pressler Amendment, but there’s just a lot of scar tissue. So I think it’s unrealistic to say, okay, so you asked them, what did they tell you. But I think it is fair to say that we have really increased the level of conversation and sharing of information over the last nine months that is unprecedented at least since we were in there working with them to create these organizations that are now the source of a lot of our problems.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Senator Kerry (inaudible) relationship? (Inaudible) the general (inaudible) are too far, too fast, too much to try to accomplish?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You know I’m not going to answer that question. (Laughter.)

Thank you. I mean, I have saved my comments for the President, and I think I’ll keep it that way.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Senator Kerry made (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that there have been many really well reasoned, well thought out contributions over the course of the last months to this debate from many different points of the spectrum, and I think Senator Kerry made a very – very effective presentation. I think the President is well aware of the different points of view and the different approaches that could be taken. He’s just trying to work through to a point where he feels that he’s made the best possible decision. If this were easy, we wouldn’t have engaged in this process.

QUESTION: Are you engaged in consultations (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I always am. Yeah, I always am. Now, I mean, one of the problems of the timing of this trip is there may be some additional meetings that would be scheduled, and we will have to be represented there. But how we do that in person, telephone, whatever, I mean, that just goes with the territory.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Are you satisfied that (inaudible) prepared for that, and what kind of (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: The question was about the developmental commitment – yeah, the 7.5 billion, and is the fact that we don’t yet have an AID director a burden.

On the second question, I mean, we are working very hard to get an AID director. This, you know, is very close to my heart, and I’ve expressed my frustration about the process, but I hope we’re close. But we had a very good working relationship with the professionals at AID, and they’ve been involved in all of our decisions. They’ve worked closely with Richard. He has a senior expert AID person on his team. So we are very aware of all of their points of view, and we’re working with them.

The larger question, though, is this is a big commitment, and it’s a commitment that we are putting forward to demonstrate our good faith in dealing with Pakistan. And we hope that it will be recognized as such in our country as well as in Pakistan, and there will be a bipartisan commitment as it was in Kerry-Lugar. Obviously, as I’ve told the Pakistanis, it doesn’t help when we do something like this, and then for political reasons people question our motives or oppose the legislation. But I’m a pretty patient person, and my view is we’re in it for the long run and just keep working at it and overcome these bumps in the road as we confront them.

STAFF: All right. We’ve gone around once (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Over and out. Over and out.

QUESTION: Thank you.

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PRN: 2009/T14-1

[This is a mobile copy of Briefing En Route Islamabad, Pakistan]