MODERATOR: Hello, everyone. I feel like we’ve spent a lot of quality time together today. This is a background briefing embargoed for our landing in Pakistan. We have two senior Administration officials here with us who will be speaking to you, giving brief remarks, and then we’ll go around in a circle and try to get – and we’ll get to everyone and we’ll keep going as long as we can here. So I believe [Senior Administration Official One] is going to kick it off here, Senior Administration Official Number One.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Good, thanks. And I’m doing this with [Senior Administration Official Two], who many you know, who will be Senior Official Number Two. I’ll do more the Pakistan piece of this and the trip specifics and [Senior Administration Official Two] can add in on some of the broader regional issues as questions come up.
Is it not – is it going – so we’re going to Pakistan. We are actually not going at a moment of crisis, which has kind of defined the relationship over the last several years, but at a moment of, I think, quite unique and aligned interests. And it’s really a kind of alignment of several factors that made this really the right time to go to begin a series of, I think, very substantive and meaty and important discussions with the new civilian government and the range of other stakeholders in Pakistan.
First of all, as I’ve seen many of you on past trips to this region and since I’ve been in this position since the beginning of the Administration, we’ve obviously seen a pretty tumultuous relationship with Pakistan over the course of the last four or four and a half years, starting with the period in 2009, 2010, where we elevated the Strategic Dialogue to the ministerial level, Kerry-Lugar-Berman passage, a range of kind of opportunities, but which, I think at the end of the day, expectations were set so high that it became very hard to fulfill.
We obviously then entered into a very difficult period in 2010, in 2011, first part of 2012 with the series of events, with Ray Davis, and Abbottabad, and the Salala incident and the closure of the GLOCs. And then starting last summer, I think we entered into a very constructive period, which has really defined the relationship over the course of the last year. We really tried to have much more sober expectations, be more realistic, talk about the issues of most strategic interest to both us and the Pakistanis.
And I think over the course of the last year, we’ve really seen some tangible, incremental progress in the relationship, starting with the fact that these five kind of working groups that were at one point part of the Strategic Dialogue all met last fall on the issues of key interest. There was economic and finance, stability conversations, the defense consultative group, energy, and then counterterrorism and law enforcement.
And then we entered into this unique period for Pakistan of the caretaker government. And so in addition to having a more stable footing over the last year, we’ve had this really historic transition in Pakistan over the last few months with, as you know, the first civilian government replacing another civilian government which served its entire term.
And you see in Nawaz Sharif’s victory not the type of fractious government that we had the last – with the PPP government, where they had to cobble together their coalition, but really a government, which given its strength in majority in the National Assembly, I think has – will have much more latitude to undertake a reform agenda, as they’ve already started doing.
And then, obviously, you had Secretary Kerry as a reasonably new Secretary but with a great history in Pakistan, Afghanistan, having traveled there at least ten times, a dozen times, over the last 15 years, but his first trip there as a Secretary wanting – he had wanted to do this even earlier. I know many of you were on the trip to Kabul and because the caretaker government had just started we didn’t want to go at that point. But now that the Prime Minister has been sworn in, we had the presidential elections just earlier this week, and at the very beginning of this government it seemed like exactly the right time to talk about the many continued areas of common interest and how we kind of address those together.
And at the end of the day, we’ve want – what we’ve wanted all along the last four or five years, the beginning of this Administration, a partnership with the people of Pakistan that really spans the whole range of issues of importance to us – counterterrorism, Afghanistan, trade and investment, regional stability. And it’s never been an easy task, but it remains a vital one and one really key to achieving our national security interests.
Let me walk through the schedule very briefly, and obviously we got – we can’t go into too much detail, in part because of security issues, and then I’ll hit the kind of major themes and then we can get kind of into the Q&A.
But he’s going – the Secretary’s going to really meet with the entire senior leadership of Pakistan. The beginning of the day tomorrow will be meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There’s not a foreign minister, per se, right now because the Prime Minister continues to have that portfolio, but there is a Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy, Sartaj Aziz, who is a kind of counterpart. And in fact, the Secretary met with him in Brunei about a month ago. So we will be seeing him at the MFA.
And then there will be a series of meetings with the Prime Minister. First all, he’ll have a kind of extended meeting of his civilian government cabinet, and we expect the kind of the range of the issues at the civilian government to lead on, to really dominate, whether that’s regional issues, Indo-Pak, Afghan-Pak, but the economy, energy, and domestic extremism, as Nawaz ran on a platform of the three Es – the economy, energy, and extremism. And so we expect that much of that will be addressed in that initial meeting.
He will have a one-on-one with him for a while as well. And then we’ll also have a meeting that will have senior military representation as well, and so making sure that we have the right forum to talk about kind of the range of national security interests that we have.
The Secretary will also be seeing separately General Kayani later in the day. He will be visiting with President Zardari at that point, who’s been an important partner of the U.S. and is now scheduled to leave office in September after the completion of his term. He did not stand for election again in the elections earlier this week.
And then we will have, hopefully, one or two other public events that will focus on kind of areas of joint cooperation and alignment and also highlight some of the assistance that we’ve worked on cooperatively over the last few years under the auspices of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman funding.
In terms of the actual agenda – and none of this will come as a surprise – but as I said for – we want to continue to help build and strengthen the role of the civilian government. I think it’s fairly remarkable what Prime Minister Sharif has already done on his agenda dealing with the economy, energy, and extremism just in the last few weeks. He’s moving quickly to address the economic issues, engaging with the IMF. He’s already made some reform decisions, trying to right the economic ship, trying to deal with kind of the internal security issues.
He sent Sartaj Aziz to Kabul just last weekend to continue to build and facilitate the Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship. And then he’s already begun the outreach to India and with good cooperation on the Indian side as well in trying to jumpstart the normalization process. So all of these issues, which are front and center for him, we want to continue to help support.
On the economy in particular, it’s built on work that the U.S. has done to build investment and trade in Pakistan. Just several weeks ago, the U.S. and Pakistan cohosted a trade and investment conference in Dubai, where four of the new Pakistani ministers attended, including the finance minister, which was kind of very successful in terms of trying to continue to build on what Pakistan wants most for economic stability, which is increased investment.
And then though Secretary Kerry is the first cabinet member to visit with the new government, President of OPIC, Elizabeth Littlefield, was just in Pakistan two weeks ago, also kind of highlighting the range of new projects that OPIC is engaged in in their pipeline in Pakistan.
Obviously key to any sort of economic revitalization is a broad reform agenda for the Pakistanis, which would include expanding tax collection, resolving the energy crisis, and creating room for the private sector. So we expect that all of this will be part of the economic agenda.
In terms of the issues that we will raise, as we have raised many times before, are issues of counterterrorism, of cross-border militancy, and of how we continue to partner in terms of promoting a secure and stable and united Afghanistan.
On counterterrorism, the domestic counterterrorism concerns of Pakistan are really pretty phenomenal. Over 40,000 Pakistanis have been killed since 2001, and we continue to have very good cooperation, as the President said right after the Abbottabad raid, in terms of more terrorists having been killed in Pakistan than anywhere else since 2001. And in terms of our joint struggle against al-Qaida and others, that continues to be a constructive relationship.
But we also will continue to talk about the issues of cross-border militancy and clear – as we have stated in the past and I’ve just gone through some of the transcripts of when Secretary Clinton visited as well – the reality that safe havens for extremist groups clearly threaten our interests, our allies in the region, and most of all really Sharif’s own ability to execute on his reform agenda and provide greater economic stability. And so how we continue to deal with those issues of cross-border militancy is something that will be a key piece of this conversation.
And then in Afghanistan, we continue to receive kind of constructive cooperation from the Pakistanis, the – both on the civilian leadership and on the military leadership and publicly calling on the Afghan Taliban to join peace negotiations and try to continue to facilitate the reconciliation process.
And then lastly, just to flag, is the assistance that the U.S. has continued to provide over the last four or five years, one of the largest beneficiaries of U.S. assistance in the world, the largest Fulbright Program in the world. And pretty remarkably, we laid out an agenda for this assistance several years ago at the very beginning of Kerry-Lugar-Berman, the top three priorities being energy, economic growth, particularly in urban areas, and then infrastructure projects, and particularly that contribute to stabilization. This is exactly the agenda that Prime Minister Sharif has come to power seeking kind of continued cooperation in pursuing.
And so we do want to highlight what we’ve managed to do through assistance, including adding in the last few years 1,000 new megawatts to the grid, which we think benefits about 14 million people, including --
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: – 14 – about 1,000 megawatts – 14, one four. That’s our estimate. Obviously this is megawatts on the grid, which is national, so it’s very hard to pinpoint, but in terms of how we’ve calculated it, we estimate it’s benefitted about 14 million.
We’ve improved about – constructed or improved 600 – or are in the process of doing – about 650 kilometers of road in Pakistan, including all four of the major arteries that connect Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is going to be so key to increased economic trade.
And then in terms of economic growth, one of the key project that we announced in Dubai several weeks ago was the launch of the PPII, the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative, which draws about $150 million in private investment to funding small-and-medium enterprises in Pakistan, and something that was extremely well received in Pakistan and is potentially a model for use elsewhere in the world as well.
So you saw USAID had this – the report in the works for several months now. It was just completed about a week or two ago. And so we didn’t want to announce it just before the Secretary was coming, because we obviously couldn’t announce his travel, but it’s embargoed until we land, but if that’s helpful at all in terms of writing about or asking questions about the types of projects that we’ve done through this ongoing civilian assistance, we’re also happy to talk about it and what the future of that is.
So that’s the broad overview and parameters. I don’t know if [Senior Administration Official Two] you want to add anything else now or just wait for Q&A.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: The PPII, the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: It’s a – it’s one of the – we – this is what we announced in Dubai, the launch of it. It’s a very creative and unique program where USAID awarded, through a competitive process, to two private equity firms that then matched the same amount with their own funding, so another $24 million, and then committed to having additional investors, which will ultimately take it to about $150 million at least, for the purpose of investing in small-and-medium-growth enterprises in Pakistan.
So it’s similar to what enterprise funds were able to do before, and we were able to do it kind of working directly with these – with private equity funds in Pakistan. But it’s very much the type of – even though this has been in the works for a year or two, it’s almost exactly the type of program that the government is seeking in terms of helping to invest in Pakistan as opposed to providing just civilian assistance.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: These are – the two that were awarded – and I can point you in the right direction – they were – the awards were announced in Dubai about a month ago. One is based in Pakistan; one is based in Dubai. One was a Barrage Capital and one was JNB, I think.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
MODERATOR: Okay. (Inaudible) you want to kick it off?
QUESTION: In terms of the agenda items from the United States, on the security front, what do you – would you like this new government to do in terms of acquiescing and/or continue drone strikes in Pakistan? And where does the – their nuclear weapons program stand in – on your agenda?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: In terms of the drone strikes, unfortunately I can’t say anything more than what was in the President’s speech at NDU in terms of the effort to bring greater transparency to the program and more accountability to it. But clearly this has been an issue that Pakistani politicians have opined on quite a bit, the parliament has passed several resolutions about. We know that they want a conversation about it, and it will be part of a broader and very comprehensive discussion on the whole range of counterterrorism issues.
In terms of the nuclear piece, one of the five working groups that we have on strategic stability focuses on that piece of it under a kind of public framework, and that is the venue that we use for kind of that dialogue. It’s met several times in the last year, once I think last December and again just a month or so ago in Washington, where Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller chaired it on our side. So those conversations continue to be held and in a constructive format.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, is Secretary Kerry going to discuss these two issues with them, drones and nuclear program?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: All I can say is that the whole purpose of this conversation is to have a very comprehensive, very robust, very serious, very real conversation on the range of our mutual and national security interests. And this – and it will be hard to imagine that any issue that we think is one of our key national security priorities is not on the agenda.
QUESTION: Thanks. You didn’t mention the Taliban peace talks. How is that issue going to be raised, since we did have the opening of the Qatar office? And what role is Pakistan going to play? And the release of prisoners – what’s the latest on that? And also, if you could put it in the context of what Pakistan is asking for in terms of U.S. presence in Afghanistan post 2014.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, that was what I was referencing in terms the role that Pakistan will continue to play in Afghanistan and that the indicators that we’ve had over the course of the last year, including the last civilian government, the foreign minister, the prime minister, and as well as the military leadership has been constructive in seeking to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table, calling on all parties to come to the table, and recognizing that a secure and stable Afghanistan is in the interest, long term, of a secure and stable Pakistan. So that’s certainly one of the key parts of our ongoing conversation.
And – but in terms of – we don’t expect anything specifically on a Doha office coming out of this trip, and there’s been no further movement since last time we briefed on where that process stands. But clearly Pakistan has – is an important stakeholder in the long-term process here. And how we can best try to facilitate long-term stability in the region will be a key part of our conversations.
QUESTION: Sorry, just on that, if they are still refusing to give up their use of proxies through certain domestic terrorist groups that they use as proxies for cross border, how can you possibly accomplish that? What’s changed if they’re still holding onto those proxies because of the Indo-Pak context?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, I think that that integrates a whole range of issues. I mean, the – as we’ve said to them in the past, fostering or helping in any way to provide some sort of base for extremism is ultimately not in any of our interests, including in Pakistan’s interest. And so I think that this will actually be – we’ll have to see where the new government is on this and what they’re willing to do as how they see it as part of their broader efforts at promoting stability. I mean, that’s in large part one of the reasons we want to have to this conversation face to face and see how far we can move this forward.
But in terms of the safe havens for Haqqani and others, the Afghan Taliban, the TTP, the cross border that you referenced – I mean, it’s all – there are individual strands there and various equities, but the larger argument is that they are the ones bearing the brunt of continued extremism in Pakistan and that by asserting greater sovereignty over their own country and taking care of these that it – that that is the only way for Sharif to be able to accomplish the goals that he has set out.
Is there anything you want to add on Doha or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Indira, what was the Doha question again?
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Whose prisoner releases? Pakistan’s prisoner releases? No. Nothing new. I think it’s reasonable to expect that this will be a topic of conversation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’m sure you’ve seen President Karzai has tentatively accepted an invitation by Pakistan to visit Islamabad and this will be a key bilateral issue there.
As far as Pakistan’s interest or request for our post-2014 presence in Afghanistan, that’s really something that’s going to come at the invitation of the Afghan Government. The – I think the Pakistan interest there aren’t centered on quantity, but the quality of stability.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Not focused on quantity, but rather the quality of stability and what will be required to best bring about stability in Afghanistan and more broadly the region.
MODERATOR: Pass it to Deb.
QUESTION: Have you seen any evidence from the new Prime Minister that there is any kind of rebalancing going on between the civilian and the military and intelligence sectors?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think – it’ll be interesting to see how that continues to play out. I mean, I think it’s kind of too early to tell. His public rhetoric is still on continuing to build and strengthen the civilian institutions. It’s something that we support. And General Kayani actually has also said how important it is for him for the civilian government to – that he was very supportive of the transition to power that took place, he was very supportive of the elections that took place, and wants the civilian government to lead in the ways that Prime Minister Sharif has indicated.
So we haven’t seen any clash of interest thus far, and I think that’s where we’ll see if there’s any sort of recalibration. But I think that the Prime Minister has continued to indicate that strengthening those institutions will remain important to him, and we haven’t seen any indication that the military is taking that in a negative sense, and in fact, has embraced greater ownership by the civilian government of some key issues, like the economy.
QUESTION: Thank you. Do you expect to have a conversation about Kashmir with the Pakistani Government? And do you think that this new government is more committed to have a better relationship with India?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: There’s no change in policy in terms of where we are on that, which is that we do not see ourselves or seek to be in the middle of any conversation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. But certainly we are very supportive of the moves that both India and Pakistan have made to normalize relations. And I think that the great strides in normalization on the economic side have been very important the last few years and have really paved the way for better and more constructive conversations on the political side. So we’ll see where that continues to lead.
As Secretary Kerry said when he was in India a month or so ago, he called on the Indians to continue that process of facilitation, as well as the Pakistanis to do things like provide MFN status to the Indians. And I’m sure that that will be part of the conversations that we continue to have. But we are external actors in this. We are not – we are in no way seeking to broker any sort of conversation on Kashmir.
QUESTION: On the – sort of on the same counterterrorism theme, I mean for years you guys would say that Pakistan was going to have to close the safe havens in order for the relationship to really improve and for the war in Afghanistan to be winnable. They never did that. I mean, is there any – what gives you any confidence that they see it at all in their interests to have the – basically to have Afghanistan the way – the stable country that you say you want it to be?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, it’s a good question and it’s at the crux of what we are continuing to do. But we will continue to make the case that we’ve made very vocally, privately and publicly, for the last two years on the need for Pakistan to assert more control over these areas to be able to succeed in the ways that they most want to succeed. If they are able – they will only be able to confront their own domestic security issues, they will only be able to provide economic stability and a place for investment, they will only be able to have stable neighbors, if they take greater control over safe havens.
And it’s a discussion that has had some limited success in some ways, but we will continue to make the case quite vocally that’s it’s a key – it has to be a key priority of the government moving forward to address this as seriously and as multifaceted a way as possible. And as Secretary Clinton said even several years ago, there’s a range of issues, range of ways, that that can be addressed, whether it’s looking at flow of funds or cooperation in a range of other things.
And we will continue to try to ensure that they take the steps possible to make it safer for Afghanistan, for our interest in Afghanistan, for our allies in the region, but also for Pakistanis. And I think that this really has changed over the course of the last few years, as you’ve seen more and more Pakistanis killed by IEDs, as you see an increase in domestic violence, that it all stems from a common source of extremism and that it is too facile to try to separate those out and say there are certain interests that are ours and certain interests that are Pakistan’s, and it has to be a common effort to address all of those collectively.
Want to add more to that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: That’s a good question, Anne. The – as [Senior Administration Official One] says, I think the – what’s not changed is that the rise of violent extremism is a threat and a mutual concern to Kabul and Islamabad as well as the United States, but we have each a different perspective on it. Kabul looks at it from the vantage of the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban, obviously the Pakistanis from the TTP, and we have a focus on the transnational terrorists, but the problem is the same. I mean, it’s the rise of violent extremism, and it moves in all directions.
And I think to the extent that there’s something new here, it’s that there is an increased focus and an increased opportunity here on looking at the long-term stability of Pakistan, as Prime Minister Sharif is doing. And as he’s focused initially on the economic front, I think there’s a realization that the economic reforms and improvement and the long-term stability can’t just rest on economic foundations, it also has to address the security issue, because without doing so you can’t really get out the economic problem, you can’t spur increased trade, you can’t motivate increased investment and so forth. And that does offer a bit of a new opportunity, and I think that there is growing realization of that.
So whereas the dynamics of the problem are somewhat unchanged, there is a new opportunity, I think, to approach this through an economic lens and therefore a security lens. And we see that borne out in as much as the new government’s focus has been on the economic front, they are scheduling an all parties conference which is going to center on the issue of security here in the next – and the real, I think, reason you see in doing so is because it is tied in that way, and they’ve made that connection.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: And obviously it goes without saying though it’s impossible to have increased cooperation if you don’t have the predicate conversations first. And so this is our opportunity to continue to have the conversations that we were having with the former government and that we think there’s greater opening on with this government. But this is the first real opportunity – now that the cabinet’s in place, now that we have a sense of his priorities and the challenges that he will continue to have – to sit down with the Prime Minister and with the rest of the leadership, civilian and military, and continue to have this kind of this most critical of conversations for us.
QUESTION: Hi. Lesley Wroughton from Reuters. I was wondering if you were thinking of – given that there’s a deal with the IMF on lending, is there going to be in any way at least a discussion on recalibrating U.S. aid in Pakistan, given – I mean, obviously, the new Prime Minister will have his ways of thinking about development, and are you willing to rethink that strategy to go along with that? And also given the flux of aid to Pakistan and withholding of aid and then resuming it, what kinds of reforms would you like to see going forward to ensure that that aid is not wasted?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: On the IMF question, we were very supportive of the Pakistani outreach to the IMF. We thought that that was the only way to stabilize the country. But we also did not purposely play any role in this. This was Pakistan’s conversation with the IMF, and the deal that came back was the IMF’s deal. And we will support that and think it’s the right way, but we were completely disengaged with kind of the conversation and the negotiations, although I think it came out in the right place for Pakistan.
In terms of – we haven’t even begun. The board meeting which would approve this would be in early September. There are a series of prior actions that will have to be taken before that. They’re going to be fairly difficult. I think an early test of the Sharif government will be to see whether he’s able to deliver on those and start a reform agenda in earnest. I’m hopeful. I’m trying to be realistic but hopeful that they will be able to make it and that we’ll move forward in that way. We haven’t even begun the conversations yet with the IMF in terms of how the U.S. Government would support that or where that would come from or the types of things that we’re already doing, would they be counted as part of that or not. So that’s for a future date.
It’s a good question on assistance. I think, as I said, we’ve – there’s enough thought and strategy that went into our civilian assistance package that it turns out that it was very much aligned with where the Pakistani priorities are anyway. So I don't see major shifts in our prioritization. But obviously we want to be responsive to the new government too. We don’t want to slow down the process even further by making a big paradigm shift. I don’t foresee that at all. But if within any of our key priority sectors – within energy or within economic growth – there are some key asks of the new government, then yes, of course we want to continue to think about how we can support them and continue to do this.
And it’s important to note that the assistance was always hand in hand with a policy discussion. That was the purpose of the Strategic Dialogue. That’s why at its heyday in 2010 we had 13 different working groups, but of the five that continue to still meet, one of them is energy. And we will undoubtedly have that again over the next month or so. Carlos Pascual has gone there several times. We’ll continue to stay engaged. It’s what Elizabeth Littlefield was talking about before. And the reforms that are going to be so fundamental to making an energy program work and become stable will have to be taken before anything can be rectified.
And so – so yes, there’s some movement. We’re obviously moving away from assistance altogether. We’re moving away from it because of the tenure of Kerry-Lugar-Berman will be over in 2015, because the Pakistani Government is trying to move away itself from assistance towards more trade and investment, as we’re moving away from it given our own financial constraints in the U.S. and the feeling about assistance writ large. But as long as we have it, we will try to make sure it’s in sync with Pakistani priorities and where we are being as impactful as possible in conjunction with their reform agenda.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Kerry-Lugar-Berman was a five-year authorization for $1.5 billion a year for five years. So it was – the first fiscal year was 2010, the last – 10, 11, 12, 13 – the last one will be ’14, Fiscal Year ’14.
QUESTION: I’m wondering whether you can give us some more details about what you think Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy should be domestic counterterrorism, because there seems to be some confusion within the country. Nawaz Sharif in the past has spoken about the fact that there should be peace talks, that bullets are not the answer. The army prefers to hit the militants hard whenever it suits them. So what should their strategy be? What are you telling them? Would you support internal peace talks with the Haqqani Network?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: It’s a very good and very relevant question, and the honest answer is that we are not coming to it with our agenda; we are not seeking to impose on them or tell them what we think of it. And to be honest, we really want to hear what their thinking is on this. This is the reason, as [Senior Administration Official Two] noted, they’re calling the all parties conference. They’re working on their own counterterrorism strategy.
They’re reeling from domestic terrorism themselves. Look at the last week or two alone on many of these incidents and a suicide bombing killing 50 people, over 50 people, the last few days, the incident that killed the President’s bodyguard, the mountaineers, I mean, anything that’s in the news on a regular basis. They recognize that this is undermining the thing that they care about most, which is economic stability and growth, and they want to grapple with it.
And you’re right. There’s a range of ways that it could possibly be done. So that’s part of the reason we wanted to have a very no-holds-barred, open conversation about what they are thinking, how we can help be supportive, and how that intersects with the issues that we’ve talked about in terms of their domestic terrorism and TTP issues intertwined with the broader fight against extremism and the ongoing safe haven issues.
QUESTION: This sort of follows up on Kim’s question, but it seems like we’re making the same argument to the Pakistanis that we’ve been making for years about why safe havens and militants are so bad for them. And you hear U.S. military officials talking over the last couple or so years saying the Pakistanis are all talk, they’re not actually doing anything. Is there any indication that they’re doing more than thinking about a strategy, that they’re actually going to do something for a change?
And secondly, will the discussion of U.S. withdrawing military equipment and so forth out of Afghanistan through Pakistan – will that – is that – do you plan for that to come up as well in any of these discussions?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: (Inaudible) took the second question first on GLOCs. I think it’s symptomatic of how far we’ve come over the last year that it’s actually not on any agenda items right now, because it’s been working very well. So no, the negotiation last year actually turned out to be that much – I mean, I’d have to point you back to where – to what we briefed on this at the time. But it ultimately wasn’t that much on the financial side. They realized that they could be – that money could be made and it was in Pakistan’s interest to have the GLOCs open. But in terms of the actual increase in cargo, all those stories were very overblown last year.
And the GLOCs going up to Afghanistan continue to work well. The bigger issue is the retrograde, obviously coming down from Afghanistan, and all the prototypes on that have worked quite well and we expect them to continue to work well. So I think on that issue we’re fairly well covered.
On another slice of the same economy question, I mean do you have anything good to add or I’ll think about it --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: I mean, I don't want to oversell it, but I think they are taking some steps already and – but we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of the APC. Clearly both – to go to Kim’s question, both approaches are on the table of – and as you – as Kim points out, there are advocates inside the government for each of the two approaches, and they were debated in the campaign and they’ll be debated in the APC.
But beyond where that comes out – and frankly, it’s not a prescription of ours and I don't think we would seek to offer a prescription, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that any approach is going to combine aspects of both. Their enemy they threat – the threat that they face, the enemy they face, is not monolithic. There are different parts of it that are probably more approachable in terms of talks and there are elements that are more approachable in terms of military action. So I think you have to probably get within the nuance of the actual threat and the terrorist problem.
But they are taking steps already. They’ve enacted legislation that affects their ability to do domestic counterterrorism, that improves the coordination between law enforcement, judicial, military branches so that they are taking steps already. And I think that we just need to wait and see what they come up with internally and then how we can coordinate both in our bilateral relationship with joint cooperation efforts but also how perhaps Kabul and Islamabad can increasingly cooperate. Because the problem of safe havens from both sides – both sides see the problem of safe haven from their perspective.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: The only thing I would add is yes, to a certain degree, it’s a variation of a theme that we’ve been working on for a quite a while and having in this ongoing conversation. But it is a different time and different equities. There haven’t – there hasn’t been a Secretary visit to Pakistan in almost two years, since October of 2011. We’re at a different moment in terms of the Afghan campaign, we’re at a different moment in terms of reconciliation, we’re at a different moment in terms of the steps that have been made in the broader regional stability. We’re at a different moment with a new government.
And this is a time to engage on, I think, being able to demonstrate that there’s a broader alignment here of issues that are at the core of Pakistan’s own interest in terms of why they may continue to act and act in a different and perhaps even more constructive way then they have before. We’ll have to see.
QUESTION: It’s been almost a year since the U.S. designated the Haqqanis as a terror group. But what did that actually accomplish? And you’ve talked a lot about potential Pakistani Government reaction or strategy in dealing with counterterrorism. Can you just give some context here on whether you think that this increased or recent activity is an issue of just having an inadequate security apparatus or are the terror groups that much stronger?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: In terms of the FTO designation, I mean, I think it’s hard – I mean, it’s always hard to point to kind of specific, discrete actions in a fairly finite period of time in terms of what the implications are, because it obviously impacts movement, access to funding, kind of a range of things that take quite a while to track. So I’m not sure we would necessarily see that to date anyway.
I think – I’ll have to check the data, but there have been designations that we have made over the course of the last year where the Pakistanis have not objected to and they could have blocked at the UN, where there’s been some modest help on that front as well.
In terms of what we’ve actually seen on the counterterrorism front, I would have to paint the fuller picture in terms of a number of key al-Qaida, TTP, and others taken off the battlefield over the course of the last year, which has been very important for our national security interests and leave it at that in terms of the cooperation – the ongoing cooperation that we’ve had from Pakistan against extremists.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Some of them, undoubtedly. I mean, I think al-Qaida most definitely.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. The designation issue is something that I would just have to come back to you about, in terms of what you can actually track back to that. I just think it’s a harder case to make over the course of a fairly finite period of time what the impact has been. I think you’re hard pressed to do that on virtually any designation, and Haqqani is a particularly difficult one, given that it’s just one tool in an overall kind of arsenal that we’re trying to deal with them on. So I can’t track back to that.
I don't know if you have anything more on that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: In a general sense, because we can’t go into kind of the operational instances of where we’ve actually been able to make progress or where we’ve seen progress – but in a general sense, I would say that the Haqqani Network remains resilient but that we have had an impact and that we continue kind of a multipronged approach, part of which is enabled by the designation. In, again, kind of a technical way, it does open up authorities in areas such, just to name one, and as [Senior Administration Official One] mentioned, the ability to go after terrorist financing and – which is just one prong of what is a multipronged approach to go after the problem. But they remain resilient.
Your second question as to whether or not these groups are – I think the question was are they ascendant or are they diminishing and why.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Well, clearly, the problem has exceeded the capacity of the government in certain areas, and that’s evident by, I think, the expansion of the problem into the settled areas. That encroachment alone signifies a spread of the threat. The problem, however, is beyond just the government’s counterterrorism capabilities in a military or defensive sense. I mean, as you all well know, the problem goes much deeper into the country’s economic woes, its education system, and so on.
So I don’t think we can put it just on one aspect of the government or another, but it’s clearly got the current government’s concern. It’s a mutual concern. It’s, as always, a concern of ours. And for the time being, it remains resilient enough that I think it’s going to be – as [Senior Administration Official One] pointed out at the top, it’s going to be on the top of the agenda for at least for our share of interests.
MODERATOR: All right. Just one more. Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have anything – sorry. Are you – how concerned, if at all, are you about the jailbreak that took place two days ago? I think 200 guys were released. Is – I mean, is that just par of the course, or is there concern about specific people?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t think we have enough information yet to assess who was actually in the jail or who necessarily was responsible, though we suspect it was TTP that planned and executed it. So it was a very significant and very brazen incident. And the more important piece, I think, is the aggregate kind of cumulative effect of this increased tick of domestic terrorism.
And again, I think it goes back to the core point that they – that the new government is very open, hopefully, to the argument that they have to exert more sovereignty and get – and be able to get under control this extremism issue to be able to succeed in anything that’s of core importance to Pakistanis. And so that is – a jailbreak of that magnitude is exhibit A in that.
And it does go to the fundamental kind of capacity issues as well of what the government is able to do and of where we can continue to try to work as cooperatively as possible with them, because it is such a common aligned interest of ours.
MODERATOR: All right. Thanks, everyone.