Group Interview with Dunya TV, AAJ TV, Express TV, Geo TV, Dawn News, and PTV
Secretary of State
Nasim Zehra, Dunya TV
Talat Husain, AAJ TV
Mubashir Luqman, Express TV
Hamid Mir, Geo TV
Naveen Naqvi, Dawn News
Moeed Pirzada, Dunya TV
Anwar ul-Hassan, PTV
MR. PIRZADA: Today, this is an entrusting, an entrusting new chapter and entrusting new opening in U.S.-Pakistan relationship. And in evidence of the emphasis the new Obama Administration places on people-to-people contact, that I’m joined here by United States Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton for an open and direct dialogue with the select opinion-makers of Pakistani media.
In this country, we do not know Secretary Clinton only as the United States Secretary of State. We also know her as a formidable politician, an astute politician, a very powerful ex-presidential candidate, a former First Lady. But I would also like to remind you that Secretary Clinton, even before she came into the political limelight, she was counted among the top hundred most influential lawyers that helped change the social and legal agenda within the United States.
Secretary Clinton is no stranger to Pakistan. She has been visiting this country since early ‘90s as the First Lady, and this is her fifth trip. Secretary Clinton, on behalf of my channel and all participating television channels and on behalf of the people of Pakistan, I extend to you a warm welcome into this discussion.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and I feel warmly welcomed. It is a great personal pleasure for me to be back in Pakistan, as you say, for my fifth trip. And it is also a high honor to be representing the Obama Administration and the United States.
But I’m here not just to do the official diplomacy. I have already met with the foreign minister and the prime minister. I’ll be meeting with the president. I’ll meet with the opposition. I’ll meet with parliamentarians. And that’s very important. But it is especially critical that we do more of what you’re doing today with your colleagues so that I have a chance to answer the questions that are on the minds of the people of Pakistan, so that we can have more people-to-people diplomacy. Because we need to build stronger bonds of connection, of trust, of cooperation and partnership between our two countries, and that’s what I hope today will be able to help us do – turn the page and look for an even better future.
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. Now with your permission, let me introduce to you all of us. My name is Moeed Pirzada. I am director and editor of world affairs for Dunya News. I also present my own current affairs program, Dunya Today, and I also write for Dawn and for Khaleej Times.
To your right, the first person is Mr. Talat Husain. He is the director of news and current affairs for AAJ Television. Before joining the electronic media, he has been the editor of The News in Islamabad. And Talat presents one popular program, Live With Talat, and given his robust opinions and very strong positions, we often refer to him as the agenda-setting anchor in Pakistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
MR. PIRZADA: Next to Talat is Mubashir Luqman. Mubashir is the lead anchor for Express News and the news network. He presents his own very hard-hitting political program called Point Blank. And Mubashir is also a columnist, and few people know that Mubashir is also a filmmaker.
Next to Mubashir is Anwar ul-Hassan. He is the lead anchor for Straight Broadcast of PTV, Pakistan television. He is also the diplomatic correspondent and Kabul is the diplomatic assignment. And he has the credit of running – of presenting the longest-running current affair programs and Straight Broadcast of PTV for the last seven years.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. PIRZADA: Here to my left is Ms. Nasim Zehra. She’s director of current affairs with Dunya News. She presents her own program, a popular political affairs program, Policy Matters. Nasim has been a columnist, a very prominent columnist, with the news and also Khaleej Times for almost 15 years now. And she has extensively covered the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
Next to Nasim is Hamid Mir, and I must emphasize that Hamid Mir is a quintessential household name in Pakistan, and he is currently the editor at Geo News in Islamabad. He presents a very popular program, Capital Talk, took a very leading role in the loyalists’ movement, civil society movement against General Musharraf. He is also a columnist with the newspapers Jang and (inaudible).
Next to Hamid Mir is Naveen Naqvi. Naveen has been part of the launch team of the Dawn News, Pakistan’s first English television channel. Naveen is a senior anchorperson. She presents a morning news program as well.
And this is it, and we’ll just say charity begins at home.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
MR. PIRZADA: Let me ask the first overall question to you, that this is your exclusive trip to Pakistan, three-day exclusive --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MR. PIRZADA: -- trip to Pakistan. And this is coming at the – almost just after a raging controversy around the Kerry-Lugar legislation in this country. That’s one aspect. So we would like to know how do you see yourself, the significance of your visit? What is on your plate in terms of the agenda?
Also, the second thing is just before coming here on Monday, you attended the sixth Situation Room meeting with President Obama on national security --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
MR. PIRZADA: -- and on Afghanistan. And we would like to know what is the short-term and long-term vision of your Administration, the Obama Administration’s view on Afghanistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Moeed, I hope that my trip will send a very strong signal to the people of Pakistan of the sincerity and seriousness of our commitment to a long-term, durable relationship between our two countries. When I say I want to turn the page, I mean that our relationship should be much deeper and broader than our shared concern and fight against terrorism. I’m very impressed and admiring of the efforts that the government and the military are taking to root out the sources of so much anxiety and anguish and tragedy as those who attack innocents and attack the very institutions of the Pakistani Government.
We do share that very strong commitment to ending the reign of terror that has not just in Pakistan, but in many places in the world caused so much difficulty. But we also want to work together on economic development. Today, I was privileged to announce a big commitment worked out with the Pakistani Government between our experts on how we can assist in improving the energy sector toward more reliable, predictable energy, especially electricity. We want to work on education and healthcare. I announced, along with Foreign Minister Qureshi, the resumption of our strategic dialogue where we will consult and try to produce results that will benefit the people of our two countries.
So I am here hoping that I can speak directly to as many people as possible through the medium of the press, through town halls, through meetings with civil society. I’ll be doing that in both Lahore and Islamabad. And it would be presumptuous to say what will come out of a three-day trip, except I’ll have a wonderful time and get to see people that I’ve known for years as well as meet new people. But I hope it’s the start of this turning the page on our relationship.
As to your second question, the President is working very hard to determine the best way forward to achieve our strategic objectives. The objectives have not changed. We are determined to root out al-Qaida – which poses a threat to us, to you, to so many others around the world – their extremist allies, many of whom you are now fighting because they have thrown their lot in with al-Qaida, and to work to try to stabilize Afghanistan so that the people of Afghanistan have a better future and you don’t have threats coming to Pakistan or threats coming to the United States from Afghanistan’s territory.
And it is important for us to have a combined civilian and military strategy in Afghanistan, because so many of the problems that are feeding the presence of the Taliban are rooted in people not feeling secure, not feeling that they have a solid future for themselves and their children, the government not being able to really provide the kind of control and support that people expect. So this is an area where Pakistan and the United States have a lot in common. Our military-to-military relations are growing all the time. The Pakistani military has been very helpful in advising the American military of the best way forward in Pakistan.
So the President will be making an announcement when he’s ready, which will be most likely after the Afghan election. Last spring, he said that we would review our strategy after the Afghan election, but the Afghan election isn’t over yet. So it’s taking a little longer than perhaps we might have expected. But our strategic goals remain the same. We just want to be sure that we’re operationalizing them, that our tactics are the best for us to pursue.
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.
I think, Talat, you want to raise a question?
QUESTION: Yes. Thank you very much. Well, we welcome you here, but at the same time, we have to state the facts as we see them. You speak about turning the page. That’s a laudable goal. But you would agree that words do not turn the page; policies do. Words could have done the same job if words were drafted carefully, and that brings me to the Kerry-Lugar bill. I think the debate inside Pakistan probably would have been less ferocious if the drafting of the bill could have conveyed a different kind of an intent altogether.
The drafting left a lot of phrases that were humiliating – that’s how they were seen here – conditionalities that were very (inaudible), were described in a manner that spoke of arrogance. And on top of it, what really cut most of us to the quick in the mainstream media was the way this whole debate was characterized by somebody like Mr. Holbrooke, who is a responsible representative of the Obama Administration. And let me just quote what he said in his recent press conference, that the Kerry-Lugar bill, in his opinion, didn’t spark anything; it was just an excuse for a certain group of people who were looking for an excuse to take a great piece of legislation, then rub it to the ground.
I’m just trying to understand, when you talk about turning the page and then you look at the language of the Kerry-Lugar bill, the intent through the drafting and the language doesn’t come through as that. So either we have not been able to read the genius that is in the drafting of the Kerry-Lugar bill, or, frankly, we are looking at a public policy that is so fundamentally different from your actual policy towards Pakistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m glad you raised that, because this is one of the examples of where we are not communicating well, and I think that’s a two-way problem, not just a one-way problem. The Kerry-Lugar bill has been in our Congress for a number of years. In fact, it started off as the Biden-Lugar bill before the Vice President was elevated from the Senate. And there has been a lot of coverage of it. There has been, certainly, a lot of attention paid to it. And I believe that the intent and the motivation was to do as stated by the United States, which was to have a visible, tangible commitment over a number of years to demonstrate that our concerns and our willingness and hopefulness about working with Pakistan was not some kind of one-off commitment, but instead a long-term commitment.
And yet on the other hand, apparently much of what was written, which to members of Congress – I used to be one – was very common language. That’s the kind of language we have in so many of our aid packages. It’s not at all specific to Pakistan. And that the conditions, if that’s the way to describe them, really apply to the United States. I mean, we know that we’re going to be held accountable, the Government of the United States, to our taxpayers.
So we want to make a very big commitment in the middle of a global recession totaling $7.5 billion to another country, and we’ve got somebody sitting in Columbus, Ohio who says, “I’m unemployed. Why is my money going to Pakistan?” And we want to say we want an important relationship with a very critical ally, and yes, we’re going to commit this money and then your government – namely, me and the Secretary of Defense and others – we will report to you. We will report to the Congress as to how the money’s being spent.
It had nothing to do, in our view, with the sovereignty of Pakistan. It imposed no conditions on Pakistan. And it was, as I said, very much in line with other aid packages. However, the fact is, as you point out, that was not the message that was coming across. So we clearly did not do our homework in trying to explain what it is we were trying to accomplish. And frankly, I think one of the problems is we did not have a program to reach out to the Pakistani press. That will never happen again, because if we’re going to have this partnership, then we need to be communicating through the mechanisms that the people in each of our countries will hear and listen to. So --
QUESTION: Well, let me interject here with your permission.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: There’s a follow-up as well. It’s not just the language itself. It’s not that you will have, you know, 10 programs done in favor of Kerry-Lugar bill and the nature of the bill is going to change. I mean, surely, Pakistani people do see it as a slight to their intelligence when somebody says that, “Well, you’re not exactly reading the real intent of the bill.” You’ve got 12 conditionalities related to security put into a bill that deals with economic aid and social sector development.
So clearly, there’s something happening through the bill that the U.S. is unwilling to acknowledge. I think your PR and charm offensive is fine, explaining your position is fine. But somewhere down the line, one has to examine the bill, and it has been examined in great detail in Pakistan by people who have some expert in these matters. And you know, we believe that the bill had a sort of, you know, a hidden agenda.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you know what, I am very sorry you believe that, because that was not the intention. Nor, as someone who served in the Senate for eight years, would I read it that way. But I think your question raises the larger concern that when the United States – this is how we see it – when the United States says we want to try to remedy some of the problems of the past, which I have admitted, I have given speeches about that I don’t think that our relationship was always as constructive and solid as it needed to be.
So we say we want to remedy it, and we’re going to try to do that through an aid package which we think could be extremely beneficial to the people of Pakistan, but that as a matter of course, when we do aid legislation – you can read – the aid that goes to Israel, the aid that goes to Egypt – when we have big packages of aid, I think it is absolutely understandable that there would be a desire on the part of our members of Congress to have some accountability. That doesn’t affect your sovereignty; that’s accountability on us. We have to – I’m the one that has to go before the Congress and say, well, we think we’re making progress or not, we think the money is being used as we intended it or not.
Pakistan doesn’t have to take this money. Let me be very clear: You do not have to take this money. You do not have to take any aid from us. But we believe that we can turn the page. And what is regrettable is this misunderstanding, from my perspective, as to both the intent in the motivation of the legislation and the way that we draft legislation. So we’ll certainly do better. We’ll certainly try to explain better. But this is just an authorizing piece of legislation. The money has not been appropriated. And if Pakistan doesn’t want the money, we’re not going to impose it on you.
QUESTION: Let me just quickly ask, really quick. There is an impression in this country that once the President has authorized and the money starts to roll towards Pakistan, the Pakistani Government, either the ministry of finance or foreign affairs or the prime minister’s office, will have to sign a parallel instrument that will mention – that will automatically impose the conditions of Kerry-Lugar legislation and bill, which you say is on the U.S. executive upon the Government of Pakistan. Is something like that going to happen?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, what happens usually – as I say, this is what we call authorizing legislation. So the President can sign this, but that doesn’t mean any money will flow. You have to go back to the Congress to get the money appropriated. So it’s a two-step process. And when the money is appropriated, we can take a hard look at what, if any, conditions will be expressed – again, I would just reiterate these are conditions on the United States Government – and then move forward with the money being appropriated.
But I want to make very clear, we believe that our relationship with Pakistan is in both of our interests. We believe that it is important for the United States, but we believe equally it’s important for Pakistan. We believe that the kind of assistance that we could provide to fulfill the needs that are identified by the people and Government of Pakistan could be useful.
QUESTION: But Pakistanis also have to believe that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with you.
QUESTION: It’s not enough for you to believe that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, no, no, no. I agree with – I agree with you.
MR. PIRZADA: I think we have to move.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but I think – we’ll move on, but I think you don’t have to believe it. We don’t have to give you the money. I mean, this is like – this is not – nobody is saying you must take this money so that we can help you rebuild your energy sector or put more kids in school or provide better maternal and child health. You don’t have to take the money.
QUESTION: But there is another side to that.
MR. PIRZADA: Let’s move ahead. Are you going to raise the question, or should we?
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
MR. PIRZADA: Okay. You go ahead.
QUESTION: If you’ll allow me.
MR. PIRZADA: Okay.
QUESTION: Okay. Because – thank you very much and welcome to Pakistan. And we also believe that the United States and Pakistan, they need each other and we need friendship. But there are some questions in the mind of common people. I will start my question with Kerry-Lugar bill.
Our rule of law have been mentioned many times in Kerry-Lugar bill, which is a very good thing. But my question is about those U.S. officials who are breaking Pakistani law, again and again, in this federal capital of Pakistan, which is called Islamabad. And they have been caught many times by our police. They were carrying illegal weapons. Just last morning – in the morning of the 27th of October, four U.S. Marines were caught at three o’clock in the morning in Islamabad. They were arrested, and within one hour they were released.
So the common man is asking this question that why the U.S. officials are free to break Pakistani law, and who have ordered them to patrol on the streets of Islamabad? And will you allow Pakistani soldiers to patrol like this, carrying illegal weapons in their hands in the streets of Washington?
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t have any of the specifics about that particular question. I can only say that there are rules which govern all countries. Diplomatic immunity applies in every country. So certain things that a Pakistani official in our capital of Washington might do would be diplomatically immune from arrest or from any kind of action. I have no idea whether that is what we’re talking about.
QUESTION: But no diplomat come on the road at three o’clock in the morning?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, yes. I mean, we have diplomats and people assigned to embassies in our country who have car accidents, who get into fights, who have all kinds of problems. And there are international rules about how to deal with that. I will certainly look into it to see whether what you’re talking about is within that kind of framework or there’s something else going on.
MR. PIRZADA: Secretary, again, thanks, but let me move ahead.
QUESTION: I just have one thing at the outset. When a perception is reality, you may be very sincere and very serious in your endeavors to provide aid to Pakistan. But if the people of Pakistan do not perceive it as an aid, then there is a serious issue and one has to look beyond that.
Now, the fact of the matter is we – all of us, and I speak for every one of us – we have our hands on the pulse of the people. We talk to people on the roads, we talk to people on the streets, we talk to people who have invested over here. And they all ask one question, and I can’t answer that. When President George Bush made a statement, either you are with us or against us in Pakistan, at that time, the Government of Pakistan at that time choose to be an ally of the United States, without any conditions put anywhere, you know, with just one phone call. How come now, when Pakistan is in need of aid, the Government of the United States or the congressmen or the Secretary of State has to come up with certain conditions?
Now, I’ll dovetail this so that we can move on as well. If the United States Government is so sincere in helping Pakistan go through its problems, why is it that you are constantly using drone attacks inside Pakistan? Why not transfer that technology to the Pakistan military that you have praised yourself just now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say that one of the pages I’m turning is on the Bush Administration, because I think being for us or against was not the best way to build common purpose among other nations with our own. And we are grateful for the support that Pakistan has given in the fight against terrorism. It’s a mutual concern, and we have a common enemy. And I am very admiring of the sacrifice that the Pakistani people have had to endure in order to undertake this fight.
But I think that it is a different – I think the difference that we’re talking about here is not as great as it is perceived on the part of the people that you are referring to. But I will admit that clearly there is a lot of misperception, and perception is a reality, so therefore, it is up to us to try to set that straight. And we will certainly try to do a better job than we just haven’t apparently done, because it hasn’t been convincing to those of you who represent the media. But it’s not for any bad intent. It’s just, apparently, we were not as sensitive as we should have been in terms of presenting the legislation that was passed by the Congress.
And with respect to your second question, I don’t really talk about that. I think that’s something that the military-to-military relationship has to deal with.
QUESTION: But is there a possibility for that in the near future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to speculate on that.
QUESTION: If I may --
QUESTION: Let me – I want –
QUESTION: -- the Shura council hat has been coming up – sorry, if I may. And we’re talking about an expansion of drone strikes towards Balochistan. That’s been in the news as well. So how does that fit in with all of this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think that the discussions between our militaries and our intelligence agencies, which are in constant consultation, are really appropriate to be discussed. Those are something that goes to the very difficult decisions that your military has to make. And I think we should give them the support that they need in trying to root out the people who are our common enemies.
MR. PIRZADA: Both Nasim and Anwar are waiting for their questions. Nasim, you go ahead quickly and then Anwar.
QUESTION: Well, I would like to welcome you to Pakistan and say that I think it’s a very important point at which you’ve come, just for the reasons that you have mentioned – you yourself mentioned. When I hear you speak, Secretary of State, it again seems to be a situation where you think the issue is about lack of communication. I think the fact that you want to turn a page through more aggressive communication and the speech that you gave at USIP recently, where talked of needing to be more dealing with propaganda, disinformation, and misinformation in Pakistan.
I wonder how will we make the breakthrough, because while this bill is very crucial, very important and, I mean, we know this relationship is equally important for you as it is for us. And when you talk about take the money or don’t take the money, I think that we are obviously dealing with a more complex situation. Pakistan is an ally in war on terror, as far as the United States is concerned. And without Pakistan, you cannot move forward on that. There’s no doubt about it. Those are the facts. So obviously you need Pakistan. And for us, this relationship is important. But there is, as you’ve heard everybody talk just now, there is a fundamental issue of divergence in terms of policies also. Just the bill itself – it’s not a question of intent. You know, one of the portions in the bill, it talks about a comprehensive regional security strategy, where the President will develop an interagency regional strategy to eliminate terrorist threats and close safe havens in Pakistan, including by working with the Government of Pakistan and other relevant governments and organizations in the region, and as well as appropriate to best implement effective counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts in and near the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including FATA, NWFP, parts of Baluchistan, and parts of Punjab.
When I read this bill, it seems that the policy really is of the United States that Pakistan is really the hub of the problem. Although when you look at the issue of terrorism, and if the United States is serious about the problem, then there are issues inside Afghanistan beyond just the border. There are issues inside India, which your own president during his election campaign referred to. But when you actually moved towards policy, it’s like, you know, tightening the screws on Pakistan just looking at – it’s Pakistan specific. And when, you talk of the president talking of two countries, two governments in the region, certainly, we’re not talking of Colombia or Bolivia, we are talking of India and Afghanistan.
So the question is: To what extent does the government in the United States – Obama Administration – understand the issues of security that Pakistan is facing? I think this whole emphasis on what Pakistan can do and where Pakistan’s ISI is involved or not involved – do you see what’s happening in our own country? Today, we’ve had 70 people who’ve died. So I think that you need to really look at some of the policy issues that are involved. And when I hear you speak, it seems like just issues of perception.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I am deeply sorry for the losses yet again today in the bombing and regret that the terrorists continue to target innocent people.
But I have to go back to this point, and I think this will probably require a much longer discussion than we have on this program. But in what you just read, it is also the policy of Pakistan, as it has been explained to us going back eight years now, that you, too, are worried about what’s happening on your border. You, too, are worried about what’s going on in Afghanistan.
But the bill only has money for Pakistan, so it’s – you see what I mean? That’s where the confusion, I think, lies. I mean, this is not a bill to provide civilian aid to offer services to a bunch of countries. This is a bill just for Pakistan. And when we gave money to Colombia, you would see the same kind of language when we give money to other countries.
So I regret that what we thought, and this has been going on for years – I mean, the Pakistani press has covered this before, we have worked on this for years, we’ve had consultation for years – and I regret that somehow in all that time, these problems were not recognized by any of us, because that was certainly not the intent.
With respect to what I said about the media, which, in a democracy, those of us in public office, it’s – we get to criticize you and you get to criticize us. That’s part of how it works.
QUESTION: Sure. Yeah, fair enough.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But take the example of the story that wouldn’t die, that we were on this complex somewhere building a secret barracks for a thousand Marines. Untrue. Totally untrue. We have a contingent of Marines at this Embassy like we have at every embassy in the world that is a small group of Marines who provide front line defense at our Embassy. And we kept saying it’s not true. But it was the story that wouldn’t die. That’s frustrating for us, because when we have legitimate disagreements, as we do over what the meaning of this legislation is, not with the motivation or the intent is, but how it’s being interpreted, that’s perfectly legitimate.
And as you know, Senator Kerry and Congressman Berman gave a clarifying statement, put information into the Congressional Record to try to make clear what this meant. So we have really tried to understand and respond to the concerns that have been expressed. That’s a legitimate debate, and you have every right to say, “Well, what does this mean and how does it affect us and will it impinge on our sovereignty.” And we say, “Not under our law and not under our attention.”
But the thousand Marine story, that’s just – that is the kind of thing that sort of poisons the well.
MR. PIRZADA: If I could just interject --
QUESTION: I just want to follow up.
MR. PIRZADA: Very quickly, (inaudible).
QUESTION: If I may allow to – may I just follow up?
MR. PIRZADA: Just quickly, quickly, (inaudible) waiting for the – the Secretary waiting --
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Just very quickly, very quickly, just very – just very quickly, yeah.
MR. PIRZADA: We have less time.
QUESTION: Yes, just very quickly. Secretary of State, Pakistan’s concerns on Baluchistan and, you know, Afghanistan plus India, and the issues that have been raised time and again by Pakistan – security concerns – when you talk of security concerns of India, you talk of security concerns of Afghanistan. We do not hear from Washington an acknowledgment of the genuine security concerns of Pakistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am very sorry, because I cannot tell you how many times that has been discussed both publicly and privately. We put together a trilateral commission of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve had two meetings in Washington where General Kayani came, where General Pasha came, where we spent enormous amounts of time going over the security concerns of Pakistan, pointing at the Afghans, pointing at ourselves, and saying what are we going to do to help Pakistan. All this money that you referred to that we’ve given over the last eight years, it was predominantly for security. It was military equipment. It was other kinds of technology that would assist you in defending yourselves.
So that’s why I’m here, because I want to clear the air. And I really appreciate all of you raising the questions that are kind of on the back of everybody’s mind. Because we’re not going to agree on everything, but I don’t want us to have any misunderstanding about where we do agree.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are committed to Pakistan’s security. We have spent an enormous amount of money helping you with your security, and we stand ready to do even more. But we’re not going to impose ourselves. It is up to the people and Government of Pakistan to ask what they need from us, and then we try, where we can, to respond.
MR. PIRZADA: Secretary, thanks. Anwar, please go ahead.
QUESTION: We thank you very much for (inaudible) time and welcome to Pakistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Thank you.
QUESTION: I represent Pakistan Television. You’re talking about security issues. And as you know, Pakistan is fighting a full-fledged war --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: -- against Taliban and terrorist networks on its own soil. South Waziristan operation is a case in point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: And we are bearing its cost as well. More than 250 people have died in this month, as we speak, because of suicide bombings in our towns and cities. Peshawar blast you must have heard today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: The question which arises in my mind, and actually it agitates most of the Pakistani people mind, that we hear disturbing reports that on Pak-Afghan border which is adjacent to South Waziristan, several NATO checkposts, they have been vacated. People ask why. Because America has always been demanding from Pakistan to do more to stop cross-border movement from Pakistan side to Afghanistan side. Pakistan should fence its border, but now what we are seeing, that, you know, the NATO forces which are on the one border side, they have vacated post, and they’re not checking – I think so – the cross-border movement.
So why there is so – why there’s inaction on part of NATO? Why don’t the NATO forces seal the border, because then it will hamper Operation Rah-e-Nijaat? And last year, I was reading the statement of chief of army staff. He once said that Pakistan is linking the success in Operation Rah-e-Nijaat with its effort to curb militancy and terrorism in Pakistan.
And the second question is that on 24 April, you were testifying before the congressional committee. You said that U.S. was partly responsible for the present mess, as it virtually abandoned Pakistan after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. So the question is (inaudible) realization and we welcome it that you have said in your opening statement that U.S. want to turn a new page in Pakistan-U.S. relations. When there is realization, why there’s a lack of action? Why don’t you give Pakistan – you know, provide financial and military assistance without any conditions?
MR. PIRZADA: Anwar, thanks. Yes, Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, you’re right. I did say that, because I’m trying to be as clear and accurate as I can. And the United States, in my opinion, bears some of the responsibility for the difficulties that you are now confronting. And we have a commitment to assist in trying to root out the groups that both the United States and Pakistan created, funded, and used to drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. We were partners in that. We were successful. Unfortunately, the aftermath is something that you have been having to deal with, and that’s why we want to be more helpful and assist you in being successful.
We have given billions and billions of dollars in aid where there is no misinterpretation, with no conditions. I mean, go back and look at the record over the last years of the amount of money that we have been providing to Pakistan, primarily for security, as you know. And it was important for us to do that because you were on the front lines, and we saw a common threat and wanted to respond.
The civilian side – I don’t know about your parliament, but in our Congress, it’s much easier to get money for military weapons than it is for schools. And so we’ve given billions of dollars with no conditions for military materiel, and we were very willing to do that to help you. And you can explain that to a constituent, and you can say we’re supporting the Pakistani military and the Pakistani Government in their fight against terrorism, and most people will say “Fine.”
But when you say, oh, by the way, we also want to help strengthen Pakistan’s democracy, and we want to help the people of Pakistan have the kind of lives that a democracy should deliver, so we want to build schools and health clinics and infrastructure and energy plants and tube wells so that farmers can get more irrigation, that’s a harder sell, because the average person sitting in America will say, well, I need a new school. My hospital’s run down.
So what we have historically done – and this is not about Pakistan, this is about the civilian side of aid – is to say we will make sure that the money is being put to good use. That’s what I think we (inaudible).
MR. PIRZADA: Great. Madame Secretary, there is only --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) checkposts, checkposts.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And the checkposts. I’m glad you asked that, because I was asked that question when I did two interviews for Dawn and Geo before I came, that I think are running today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The fact is we are actually putting more troops on the borders, but we are closing some of the isolated checkposts that were indefensible. We have lost a number of our soldiers and Marines over the last year because they were in border outposts that were overrun. So we’re trying to consolidate them. We’re trying to have a different surveillance effort along the border, working with the Pakistani military.
This is an evolving strategy. I don’t know that anyone can close that border. That may be the most difficult border in the world to control or close. But we’re trying to use new technology and new counterinsurgency methods, along with the Pakistani military, to actually do a better job. And we’re actually putting more troops, not fewer, on the border.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, let me first – very shortly --
QUESTION: I have a question of --
QUESTION: Wait --
QUESTION: Before we go for the second round, because we have very little time, I just wanted to pick up on the seams and ask a question. When you talk of perceptions --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: -- it’s not only Pakistan which has the negative perception in terms of the media. The U.S. media has a very negative perception and stereotypes for Pakistan. Now in terms of solutions, can the State Department – because, you see, the Pentagon and State Department do not issue negative statements about Pakistan. It is the U.S. media (inaudible).
QUESTION: They (inaudible).
QUESTION: They leak them?
QUESTION: They – yeah, they leak them. It’s (inaudible).
QUESTION: Can anything be done to improve the relationship --
QUESTION: Sometimes it’s leaked by the State Department and the Defense Department.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, and sometimes it’s just the media.
QUESTION: Let me just add one --
QUESTION: No, media doesn’t (inaudible)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on that, you see --
SECRETARY CLINTON: The media’s never wrong. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, they don’t --
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I think it’ll be unfair to judge the caliber of this debate with regard to one story that refuses to go away, because I can quote you 20 bad stories that are cast that appears in the American media about Pakistan, but – now, if you were to use that as a measure of the substance of Pakistan-U.S. ties and the debate around that, it’ll be very unfair. So let’s just leave that one story that refuses to go away, though there are question marks over that as well and we don’t have answers to that. Some of the questions Hamid has already raised.
You have thrown up some numbers at us, and let me just tell you that, one, I’m really confused about the U.S. policy. You know, for 10 years, you’ve a dictator, then you have an election, then you come back and tell Pakistani people now you want to build schools. So Pakistani public is very confused that, you know, a year ago, this very country was supporting and even rolling out the red carpet for a dictator that this entire civil society was backing against. And now suddenly, the U.S. comes to us because there’s a new administration and elections and some democracy. I guess there is that larger perspective about the way U.S. looks at Pakistan.
But let me give you numbers. You talked about the civilian aid and the military aid. Your one base in Kyrgyzstan – you know how much Kyrgyzstan charges you? Seven hundred million U.S. dollars.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is wrong.
QUESTION: Seven hundred --
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s wrong. We negotiated the contract. I’m sorry, that is not right.
QUESTION: You negotiated it down.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No.
QUESTION: They are charging you 700 million U.S. dollars. Give us a figure on that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Fifty million dollars.
QUESTION: Fifty million dollars per month?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Fifty million dollars – no, no. I’m sorry. No --
QUESTION: Just one airbase. Do you know how many airbases U.S. uses in Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: And do you know how many billions --
QUESTION: Six --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- of dollars we’ve provided to Pakistan?
QUESTION: All of that went under Musharraf into the (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, okay, but let me just stop you here. The United States did not install Musharraf.
QUESTION: You backed him, you --
SECRETARY CLINTON: That was the people --
QUESTION: You backed him. You supported him.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know what? I’m --
QUESTION: George W. Bush lionized him.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Well, George Bush is not my president right now.
QUESTION: But he did it with the U.S.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Both Musharraf and --
QUESTION: We all did (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Musharraf and Bush are gone. I’m very happy about Bush being gone. You’re apparently happy about --
QUESTION: But he’s lecturing around in your country --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- Musharraf being gone.
QUESTION: -- about democracy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, so is Musharraf. He’s in our country and he’s in Europe..
QUESTION: No, I was talking about Musharraf.
MR. PIRZADA: Okay, let’s --
SECRETARY CLINTON: But no, I think this is an important issue. Look, we can either argue about the past – which is always fun to do, but can’t be changed – or we can decide we’re going to shape a different future. Now, I vote that we shape a different future. And I cannot take responsibility for everything that was done in your country, just like you can’t take responsibility for everything that’s done in our country. But we can certainly try to chart a different course.
Now again, this is because I really believe it’s the right thing to do. I think it is in our interest to do it. I think that Pakistan has an enormous potential. I personally was very pleased when democracy returned to Pakistan, and I want very much to support democracy because democracy in the long run is a more stable basis for governing people than these dictators.
QUESTION: A very short one --
MR. PIRZADA: Just hold for a second (inaudible) because we have very little time. (Inaudible.) We have very little time.
QUESTION: Okay, but (inaudible) one question.
MR. PIRZADA: Shorten your questions to one and a half minutes. So a very short one.
MR. PIRZADA: So who’ll take – very short question, very short question.
QUESTION: Just very short. I just wanted –
MR. PIRZADA: Quickly.
QUESTION: One and a half minutes.
MR. PIRZADA: No, one minute only.
QUESTION: You were talking about democracy, which is a very good thing. Now, the parliament of Pakistan, the new parliament of Pakistan, which came into being after 18th of February 2008, this parliament adopted unanimous resolution against U.S. drone attacks, but the U.S. drone attacks have increased a lot. So I am forced to believe that you are not ready to listen to the true voice of democracy in Pakistan which is coming through the elected parliament.
MR. PIRZADA: You made the point --
QUESTION: You don’t respect our parliament.
MR. PIRZADA: Yes, you made the point. Okay, go ahead.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that on all of these issues, there has to be a recognition of the fact that we are in the middle of a war, number one, which colors everything, and we have to maintain democracy, which is essential. And that is our goal. We want to win the war and we want to support democracy.
QUESTION: Just on democracy, in the bill, there’s this mention of how the military is going to be held accountable on many fronts. And specifically, then you talk about Pakistani army not interfering in democracy and not getting involved in the judicial process, et cetera. A clause like that doesn't strengthen democracy. It basically, in a situation where the military-civilian equation is moving towards a constitutional balance in this country, you know, a statement – a clause like that in the bill essentially creates problems and destabilizes.
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you, thank you.
QUESTION: And if you want to improve the image of America in this country, why do you remain silent on Kashmir, where Ambassador Holbrooke wanted to do something about that? He stood back because of Indian pressure. So why is there silence on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very supportive, very supportive, of India and Pakistan resuming a dialogue over resolving these longstanding issues. We believe that at the end of this process it has to be a decision by Pakistan and India that anybody on the outside is not going to be able to push or prod, and shouldn’t. It is up to you and to your counterparts in India. So we are very supportive of that. So we hope that there will be a resumption of a dialogue and it will lead to a resolution.
QUESTION: The answer to the other question --
MR. PIRZADA: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: The answer to the other question --
SECRETARY CLINTON: But I have --
MR. PIRZADA: As you see, we have only five minutes left --
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have to say that it’s very common to point out that in a democracy that is so young, we want to send a message to all the constituent parts of society, support that democracy. I find that very much in keeping.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) two questions --
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I’m extremely happy you’ve talked about sending a message, because here’s a message that I do not understand, and hopefully you’ll be able to communicate that to me and everyone over here. You see, you were talking about spending on military and you gave an analogy between the schools and the military and how this works over there. When you go into Afghanistan and you, I mean, fight a war over there, trust me, you are in foreign territory and everybody that comes under fire or in the line of fire is a foreigner. And – but when our army goes into Swat or Buner or Waziristan, the chances are that they are fighting in their own territory and killing their own people at the same time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: Now, when I listen to the U.S. Administration, they are very open about, you know, establishing contacts with the Taliban shura and, you know, trying to identify the soft elements over there and, you know, making inroads and bridges over there. But when Government of Pakistan and elected Government of Pakistan does a similar peace agreement in Swat over here with the people who are actually demanding something that is their right to have – I mean, if they have a majority in the first place – why is there a sudden reaction? And then you clump Pakistan and Afghanistan together and you have a different set of policies for them.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me answer that.
MR. PIRZADA: Should we clump the second question together with it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay, as long as I can remember the first one. Remind me. (Laughter.)
MR. PIRZADA: Yeah, it’s okay.
QUESTION: A quick question. We are talking about the past history, talking about the present and future. President Obama and you yourself, you guys have said on television that you understand Pakistan well, you have interest in Pakistan, and you also know that there’s a predominant anti-American sentiment prevailing in Pakistan. What practical steps Obama Administration can take in addressing those sentiments and turning them into pro-American?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me try to answer two very important and complex questions as quickly as I can. On the question about the Taliban, first, as I understand what the Government of Pakistan did, they attempted to reach some kind of agreement with elements of the Taliban in Swat. And they thought that they had reached an agreement that would create stability and that there would not be any further aggressive action by those Taliban members. Next thing your government knew, those very people they thought they’d agreed with had pushed into Buner.
And so I think it was right for the Pakistan Government to try, but you also have to give the government credit for saying the agreement was one-sided. It wasn’t abided by. So we cannot allow those elements to pretend that they’re going to participate in society when they still are attempting to undermine our society. So I give the government credit for trying and I give the government even greater credit for doing the evaluation which led them to conclude that there was a very aggressive cancer that was eating away at Pakistan that has to be rooted out, because clearly the people with whom they were dealing were not willing to cease their attacks on the society.
With respect to the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is our evidence that there are many young men who are recruited into the Taliban who are not ideologically committed to the extremist agenda of the Taliban leadership. Some of them do it because there’s a kind of draft that goes on, and the Taliban intimidates families and communities and demands that these young men be basically turned over to them, some because they actually get paid. So these are not the hardcore people who your government is trying to kill or capture. These are young men who get caught up in it. I think they should be given a chance to be reintegrated into society, whether it’s on this side of the border or the other. The leaders have a very different agenda. They are out to destabilize this state. They are out to take over Afghanistan. They are in league with al-Qaida and therefore they pose a threat far beyond the borders, which, unfortunately, is something that we all have to pay attention to.
Now, with your question, just very quickly, I don’t expect this to happen overnight. I think that the spirited conversation we’ve had here today shows how much work there is to do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But it is very helpful to me. I have to tell you, before the reaction to the Kerry-Lugar bill occurred, I don’t think it was on my list of worries that I would have because I saw it so differently. So now we’ve been sensitized. And I don’t think that we have very many people in our own country who read legislation as closely as all of you have read it. So we’re just going to have to take a look and scrub this down and be more aware of the perceptions which turn into the reality, because if we’re going to have a relationship, I want it to be as honest as this conversation has been. Nobody has minced words. I have told you what is on my mind. That’s what true friends and partners do. We could pretend. You could pretend. You could say, well, Mrs. Clinton, how has your visit been, and we could have a nice little conversation.
QUESTION: It wouldn't be me. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: It wouldn't be you and it wouldn't be me.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And it’s not the kind of relationship we should be working to achieve. I believe we have so much in common. And what both President Obama and I feel – I had friends from Pakistan in college, he had friends from Pakistan in college. We have been in each other’s homes. I have so many very positive feelings about this country. But I know we have work to do. So I’m going to work at it.
QUESTION: One short one, Secretary. A short one.
QUESTION: No, no, just very --
MR. PIRZADA: Very short, very short.
MR. PIRZADA: Very short question.
QUESTION: My short question is that you said that we must be honest with each other.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: So the Kerry-Lugar bill have introduced the philosophy of civilian control on the security establishment of Pakistan. Do you want a civilian to head ISI? I need a very honest answer from you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I want the best person to head it.
QUESTION: Do you want a civilian to head ISI?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That – first of all, it’s not my decision. But let me tell you, the CIA has been headed by both military and civilians. It should be the person, not the position. And so if there is a military person who is the best person, that’s who it should be. If there’s a civilian who’s the best person, that’s who it should be.
MR. PIRZADA: Last question (inaudible) quick (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: But the larger question is in a democracy, at least as democracies have developed over time, it’s civilian control over the entire enterprise, not necessarily – I don’t want a civilian being the commander of our forces in Afghanistan or of Central Command, because that’s a very different job. Intelligence is different in our country. But whoever holds those positions, the principle of civilian control I think is important for democracy.
QUESTION: That is part of our constitution as well. Okay, just one last question. You talked about setting up a trilateral commission – India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. But Secretary of State, as a result of that, we haven’t seen the substantive move that we needed to see from Afghanistan and the U.S. side of the Afghan border because your forces are there and the Afghans are there, and still what we have are just 98 or 95 border posts on the Afghan side, while Pakistan has close to a thousand. So please explain why this (inaudible).
MR. PIRZADA: (Inaudible) yes, quick, this must be the last question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, as you know, the challenge of Afghanistan governmentally is far different than Pakistan. Pakistan has many more resources, assets, expertise in its government, in its military. It is our hope that we will be able to work with Afghanistan to build a professional military – something which they have not had. And so we’re looking to Pakistan to provide assistance as well as our NATO allies. So I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. The reason Pakistan has done so well in putting forces along the border is because you have a very professional, highly expert military. That doesn't exist on the other side.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when do you intend to have – finally have --
QUESTION: When do you intend to have the final version of your final strategy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when the President said we would --
QUESTION: That was in March.
SECRETARY CLINTON: He said – well, he adopted the strategy. And the goals are not going to change. We are still committed to a campaign against al-Qaida and their extremist allies, and to assisting the Afghans --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) yes, will we have a --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but remember when the President announced it in March, he said we will reevaluate where we are after the Afghan election. The Afghan election is not over yet.
SECRETARY CLINTON: As soon as the Afghan election is over, you will see that.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton --
QUESTION: After (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Before that. Before that. I hope the election’s over before that.
MR. PIRZADA: I wish we could have time (inaudible) it’s a pressure on your time. Thank you, all of you, for joining in this discussion, Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll tell you one thing, no one could doubt the free press in Pakistan. That’s a very good sign.
MR. PIRZADA: I wish you could actually tell us something to improve Pakistan’s impression of the U.S. press, the U.S. media.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have to work on that, too. And we need more exchanges like this. I mean, I wish --
QUESTION: You will send U.S. journalists to the Pakistani travel area so that they can see the (inaudible).
QUESTION: Pakistan (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: And we need you, though, to come to the United States more and to do forums and to do question and answer like this. It would be very helpful, and we’ll try to set some of that up if you have – I mean, after I listened to Moeed introduce you all, you all apparently work 24/7.
QUESTION: You are welcome to write us. You are welcome to write us, all of six (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good. Well, we will. We’ll figure out a way to do that.
QUESTION: There’s more than six, by the way, in Pakistan. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh no, another misperception. (Laughter.)
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you. Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you so much for joining us.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MR. PIRZADA: Thank you to all of you. The time is almost over. Thank you.
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