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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Roundtable with Senior Pakistani Editors

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Lahore, Pakistan
October 30, 2009


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you all very much. And I what I hope we can do in the time that we have is just have a very free-wheeling conversation. I will answer as many questions as we can get to in the time allotted. I am very determined on this trip to, as you have seen, go into many different settings and have people ask the questions that are on their minds. It has troubled me to see the level of distrust and just misperception that seems to have grown up over the last several years between our two countries and our people. And since I believe strongly in the importance of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, I wanted on this trip to very openly answer as many questions as I could. Obviously, we’ve done the official part, and there’s more of that to come, but the town halls I’m doing, the media interviewing that I’m doing – it is all, for me, aimed at both understanding better some of the source of the objections or criticism, but also demonstrating clearly that we want to listen, we want to consult, we really want to put this relationship on a very strong and broad foundation.

So with that, let me throw it open.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) asked me to moderate. There isn’t much call for moderation. There are only six of us here. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: But I think what we need to do is just introduce ourselves very briefly to you.


MODERATOR: I edit various newspapers and do a program on television. I also write what you read in The Economist about Pakistan from time to time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do read The Economist, so, excellent.

QUESTION: I am (inaudible). I work with Dawn (inaudible).


MODERATOR: Dawn is our leading English-language newspaper.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And I’ve been interviewed twice by your correspondent in Washington.

QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) Pakistan. And I am president of (inaudible) Pakistan newspaper.


MODERATOR: The newspaper society is the apex body of all publishers.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, indeed. Well, that’s a distinguished position. Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) I represent (inaudible) which is a monthly magazine (inaudible) Lahore.

QUESTION: I am Jugnu Mohsin. I am the publisher and managing editor of the weekly The Friday Times and (inaudible) magazine. I also do – I am a trustee of a social services NGO which is based outside Lahore, and I work with women and schoolchildren. And I’m the better half in that relationship.

MODERATOR: Even if you say so yourself. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is the second time where I have been exhausted after hearing you all (inaudible). (Laughter.) You do so many different things. You wear so many different hats. It’s quite impressive.

So who wishes to begin? Najam, do you want to?

MODERATOR: (Inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Madame (inaudible) I welcome you to this city of Lahore, which is the capital – cultural capital of Pakistan and considered to be the heart of Pakistan. So you are here in the heart of Pakistan.


QUESTION: Therefore, we should talk heart-to-heart.


QUESTION: I think it would be better. I would like to relate a verse from our poet (inaudible), the Shakespeare to South Asia. He has said (in foreign language). My friends, alas, are purveyors of wise advice, where all I need is a healing hand and a (inaudible) upon my wound. I want to say only this (inaudible) and a (inaudible). I want to say only this (inaudible).


MODERATOR: Would you like to?

QUESTION: Well, two things, Secretary. One, I’m sort of wondering when the Obama Administration and you and your colleagues are going to make up your minds about what do in Afghanistan. Two, I want to know whether you are aware of the fact that the decision not to send troops will be seen as defeat in this country? And three, I’d like to as, you at some stage about what you intend to do to specifically help the women of this country, the rural women of this country, which I can tell you is the area of most potential and the area which is most neglected.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well, three very important questions. First, let me put the first about the President’s decision in context. When the President was inaugurated, he inherited the Bush policy which, until November of 2008, had been a policy that had a limited military commitment. There were only 30,000 American troops. In November 2008, President Bush ordered additional troops and then left office. When President Obama came in, there was a set of requests that were pending for the President to have to address, which he did. And we did a very intense but short review of what we saw happening in Afghanistan. We realized that Pakistan was greatly impacted by what went on in Afghanistan and that to look at one without the other was a mistake because of the nature of this threat.

The President decided to appoint Ambassador Holbrooke as a special representative to both countries. He also decided to send additional troops. But at the time – and he decided to change commanders. Well, those are all very important decisions. At the time, he said we will reevaluate where we are after the Afghan election. He said that back in March when he made his initial presentation, because he wanted – and I thought it was a very judicious approach – he wanted to see what was going to happen with the troops who were put in, what was going to happen with the election.

Now, as you know, the election is not yet over. We are still waiting for it to be resolved. And that has affected the timetable of the President’s deliberations, because clearly, everyone knows that we have to create a new set of expectations with the leadership of Afghanistan, that Afghanistan has to take greater and greater responsibility, as Pakistan is now, for its own security. We have to be much more effective in helping Afghanistan build a security force, both an army and a police force, that is up to the challenge that they confront. We have to have a different set of expectations than were apparently presented by the prior administration to the Afghan leadership as to accountability, rule of law, transparency, corruption, and other building blocks of stability and security.

So the President has engaged in a very thoughtful deliberative process. I’m not going to preempt his decision making, but I would imagine that he will be coming to a decision sometime after the Afghan election is finally resolved. Because if you look at General McChrystal’s report, it is certainly a military report, but it is also a call to action for the Afghan army and for the Afghan military – I’m sorry, for the Afghan Government, both civilian and military. And we have to be sure that the Afghan people and their leadership, however their election turns out, are committed.
And so that’s the kind of context, and the decision should be sometime after the Afghan election.

I think the President is well aware that it’s important that he show resolve, that he show a commitment to seeing this effort through. I believe he absolutely would agree with what I just said if he were sitting here. But I think he’s trying to determine what is the best way to effectuate that commitment. The strategy will not change. I mean, the strategy remains the same: to defeat al-Qaida and their extremist allies, but to be slightly more focused on who are those extremist allies, where are they, how best to go after them, what does the role of government in Afghanistan have to do to be an effective counterpoint to the Taliban, and all of the other aspects of this approach. So I think that the President has reached out and listened to a broad array of opinions and has heard everything you can imagine. And then it’s up to him. He gets to make this decision, and I’m sure he will soon.

On the last question, which is very near to my heart, to go back to the heart-to-heart, there is no doubt that improving opportunities for women in Pakistan is one of the best ways to secure democracy and to improve economic opportunity. This is a given. It is what we know from every World Bank study, every United Nations study, from every government and society experience.

Yesterday, I participated with President Zardari in the Benazir Income Support Program. And I handed certificates to eight or nine women who had come from all over the country who had been selected in the prior lottery. And I’ve been privileged to visit Pakistan. I’ve been in many places in South Asia, East Asia, Africa, Latin America. And trying to give women income support apart from their husbands and their families has the best payoff of any direct program you can do. We’ve learned this over 30 years of practice. I’ve seen the effects of it. One of the most interesting programs that is going on right now are women in India and women in Pakistan actually working together on microfinance.

QUESTION: That’s right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And it’s that kind of confidence building, relationship building that may just start at the bottom grassroots but which can change attitudes. I remember in Bangladesh going to a Muslim village, and the women from a nearby Hindu village were brought over, so I was addressing an audience of both Muslim and Hindu women who were all in this microfinance program. And it’s the little things. So when I asked, “Well, what difference has this $50 loan made?” One woman said, “It allows me to contribute to my family, and my husband respects that. It has allowed me to have my own life because my mother-in-law knows I’m contributing.”

Human rights, as one of my heroines, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said, start in those small places near to home. They start in the family. They start in the neighborhood, in the village, in the school. And we have to do more. And I think the United States stands ready to help Pakistan support programs that are really aimed at empowering, educating women. And if you have ideas, we are more than ready to entertain those, because I have just seen with my own eyes what a difference it makes.

QUESTION: Absolutely. I wanted to ask you about this (inaudible) on the fast track?


QUESTION: And there is (inaudible) making it conditional on the resolution of the Kashmir issue. I wonder – I just want to know if there is a (inaudible) and what is (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to the transit trade agreement, Afghanistan and Pakistan first started talking about a transit trade agreement, I think, in 1964. Richard, 1964?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, it was never resolved. And what we discussed when we had the Afghanistan-Pakistan leadership in Washington was what steps could be taken in a relatively short period of time to increase economic opportunities and promote trade. And there were two that were mentioned. The first is the transit trade agreement. I got a report about that yesterday in Islamabad. I was told that it is on track to be resolved by the end of the year. Part of the hold-up is because of the Afghan elections. They don’t have a government, so they – the Pakistanis have really moved quite forward in trying to get this resolved. But since August or July when the campaign started, the Government in Afghanistan has not been able to resolve their part of it. But we hope that shortly after the election is determined and the new government is seated, there will be an agreement. There are a couple of minor outstanding issues that have to be resolved.

The second – but let me just say that the reason why this is so important is it opens up Pakistan to Central Asia in a way that will expedite traffic and trade. During the United Nations General assembly, I met with leaders from all the Central Asian countries. And I can’t remember whether it was Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, but one of the countries said to me that they were hoping that there would be a very good relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan so that they could facilitate trade down to your ports. And one of – apparently, I don’t know this, but I was told, Pakistan makes great cement and that the cement is really valued in Central Asia, but it’s hard to get it. So it’s that kind of little thing that stuck in my mind, and it was a reminder that trade is based on millions of individual transactions, and you have to make it as easy as possible for those transactions. And this transit agreement, I believe, will do that.

The other point which you made I agree with wholeheartedly, and I said that several times in the last two days. Opening up trade with India will have so many positive effects for Pakistan. The trade between India and Pakistan will explode and it will be far more advantageous, in our assessment, to Pakistan. Business people, I think, are there. I think people – business people here in Lahore, from what I’m told, are very willing to have trade opened. Of course, Lahore and Punjab would be the greatest beneficiaries because of the proximity. But it is something that would make a huge difference.

And I’m hoping that the dialogue begins again between India and Pakistan. It should not be a zero-sum game. There is more win-win situations that could be developed between the two countries, and trade would have an immediate positive effect on the Pakistani economy.

Did you want to follow up?

QUESTION: Yes, about the relationship, because the --

SECRETARY CLINTON: About the what?

QUESTION: As you mentioned before, Pakistan has (inaudible) made normalization of trade conditional on Kashmir resolution.


QUESTION: But is there – is there any movement on that? What is in it for Pakistan and --


QUESTION: Trade is very good thing. And Pakistan does not need to (inaudible) trade route. But on that Pakistan can do on its own and with (inaudible) already (inaudible) Afghan transit (inaudible) --


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, you have trade, but it is – there’s no agreement.

QUESTION: Transit trade we have.

QUESTION: But transit trade is from Karachi to --


QUESTION: Not from (inaudible).

QUESTION: No, but there has been some Afghan-Pakistan trade --

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, there is some trade going on. But there’s no framework agreement that decides on tariffs and decides on which trucks can cross the border. I mean, all of the things that go into an agreement, that’s why this agreement is so important, because the trickle of trade that you do have could be a flood of trade if this agreement were in place.

But with respect to your other question, we are encouraging the Indians and the Pakistani Government to go back to the dialogue that they were engaged in to look at all of these issues. Trade should be on the agenda, along with Kashmir and everything else. And we hope that there will be a resumption of that dialogue. I certainly think it is in the best interest of Pakistan that it be resumed. It’s up to Pakistan to decide if it’s an all-or-nothing agreement. I’ve talked to many Pakistani friends and they have different approaches. Some say, look, it has to be everything, and everything has to be conditioned on Kashmir. Others say, you know, if we had incremental agreements, we could get closer to an agreement in Kashmir because we would build more confidence between us.

So, I mean, that’s up to the Pakistanis. We’re not in a position to say here’s what you should do and what we expect. That’s not our business. We just want to encourage the dialogue to begin again because there are so many benefits that Pakistan could realize by this.

QUESTION: There are a couple of issues here to take up from where she left. You know, as soon as this agreement was announced in Washington, I think – or was it New York – the Pakistani Foreign Office here came under enormous pressure from the security establishment, and they gave a statement downplaying this whole thing. And we were --

SECRETARY CLINTON: The trade agreement.

QUESTION: The trade. And the perception in the security apparatus here is that the government is soft on India, the government is soft on the United States, and the government is not looking after the security interests of this country properly, which is why the Foreign Office then comes under pressure. Which is where this questions from, is there a quid pro quo?

The second issue is that after Musharraf (inaudible) really went off the agenda, in a sense. He was moving forward in very interesting areas which civilian governments had not been allowed to move on, but the army moved on those areas because it thought that this was a time to do so. Interestingly enough, the situation now is that all these things are hostages, are held hostage to this whole resumption of the Composite Dialogue.

And as far as we can tell, in all honesty, India is putting forward conditions which are not going to be easy to meet in terms of the ground situation over here. Maybe in three or four or five years’ time, some action can be taken to dismantle certain groups and things like that. But right now, the government is certainly not in a position to do that. And the establishment – the security establishment is not interested in doing that.

Why is it that although Mr. Holbrooke is a regional envoy, the fact is that India-Pakistan problems are impinging on Afghanistan as well, which is where all your problems with (inaudible) and everybody else is coming from, and which is why the attacks on the embassies take place or the consulates take place?

We definitely feel – those of us who support this entire process, we definitely feel that you and Ambassador Holbrooke should be playing a more active role in trying to persuade the Indians to get back on track and not put these conditions on their Composite Dialogue, because that is exactly what the terrorists want. They will derail – and something else, another Mumbai and this whole thing will be derailed. And then the Pakistani establishment will come to you and say sorry, we’re involved on the other side. You can go and fight your own war. This – we have to worry about the other thing.

And something like that can happen. And the Indians and the Pakistani have to, in a sense, preempt it. If they can’t preempt it, they have to sort out – sort this out that if and when it happens, they will not revert back to the warmongering hysteria that characterized the attack on Mumbai. What happened the last time, Madame Secretary, is that it took 24 hours for the Pakistani media to become anti-India all over again – 24 hours.

QUESTION: That’s right.

QUESTION: It took five years to get them on – to back to the peace process under Musharraf, and then under this government, and it took 24 hours after Mumbai – state of denial over here in the government, in the security administration, and in the media, for us to get back into the anti-India mode, so much so that some Taliban leaders were then called in to give statements saying that if there is a problem with India, they will give up the war with the Pakistani – against the Pakistanis and join the Pakistani army to defeat you.

QUESTION: To fight India.

QUESTION: So I think, you know, the thing is that we really need to get Ambassador Holbrooke to go to Delhi more often. I know the Indians are very sensitive about this. And – but I think just as some of us have been urging him to go to Saudi Arabia more often – (laughter) – I think he needs to go India more often, and I think you need to talk to the Indians also in the longer-term interests of the region. On the one hand, the Indians say that if the Americans were to pull out of here, it would be a disaster. And similarly, they also say that if the Taliban were to do things in Pakistan, then there would be a spillover.

Well, then the logical consequence of that is that the Indians should be talking to the Pakistani Government and to the Pakistani security establishment about resolving some of these things. And instead of doing that, what we now have is unresolved issues of the past, and now the new issues of water. I mean, we have water problems in this country, upper riparian versus lower riparian, Sindh Province versus Punjab Province. We can’t agree amongst ourselves over water here. And now the old Indus Waters Treaty that governs water distribution between India and Pakistan is being challenged. The Indians are building dams, we are building dams. We are in a rush to do this and we are in a rush to do that. This is conflict all over again.

And I think part of your difficulties in Afghanistan have to do with my assessment with your inability to address the Pakistani security establishment’s concerns or their mindset, which has taken a long time to build. And it – a lot of it is related to India. Therefore, I think you need to bring India into the loop more than you are doing right now if you really want to be successful in your endeavors in Afghanistan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate your comments, because I think it reflects a perspective that we have to be aware of and take into account. But let me share my perspective because it is somewhat different. When President Obama became President, as you recall, the Pakistani Government and the security establishment had decided that they would accommodate the Pakistani Taliban, and they proceeded to do so. They signed agreements. And now, this was not done by the civilian democratic government alone. This was agreed upon by the military and civilian leadership. So they signed agreements in Swat, for example. They made deals in Waziristan. They thought they could buy off the Pakistani Taliban by giving them some autonomy and some leeway in certain areas that are quite far from Lahore or Islamabad, et cetera. That was the state of play when we came into office.

Within 60 days, it became apparent that this was not working, that the agreement for some kind of a Sharia state, some kind of a Talibanist/Talibanized area was not enough for the Pakistani Taliban, which I believe is, in large measure, due because they’re no longer indigenous. They are part of a syndicate of terrorism that takes both inspiration and other aid from al-Qaida, and that some of the fighters that are you are up against are not Pakistanis, they are Uzbeks and Saudis and people from other countries. So your government, both your military and your civilian government – remember, the civilian government was new and our government was obviously new – but your civilian government and your military concluded that this approach was not working. And so we saw the action pushing the Taliban out of Buner, pushing them out of Swat, and now we’re seeing the action in Waziristan.

From my perspective, that was a sea change by both your civilian and your military establishments. So maybe it’s just a difference in time that we are looking at. But I think the actions that your government are now taking in concert between the civilian and the military are in the best interest of Pakistan, but they are incredibly consuming. It’s kind of hard to think about a lot of things when you’re moving 25,000 troops to fight an entrenched foe.

At the same time, I know that there is a renewed interest on the part of the government in both countries of trying to get back to the dialogue. Obviously, that’s ultimately in the hands of the two governments, but we are certainly encouraging it. So I’ve been to Delhi. Richard’s been to Delhi. We have conveyed that. We’ve been to Islamabad. We have conveyed that. We would like to see that because we think that both India and Pakistan face a common foe now.

Mumbai was a terrible shock to the Indians, in part because they had a situation that lasted for three days with massive television coverage. I mean, one bomb is horrible enough, but three days of seiging and killing and firebombing. And we lost six Americans in Mumbai. So obviously, we take it very seriously. And I know that the effort that Prime Minister Singh put forth to avoid a reaction was extraordinary, and it was in the middle of his election. And you know. I mean, you follow this. The voices were loud: We have to retaliate. And he would not permit that to happen.

Now, the problem in both countries is that progress can be derailed by extremists. You have yours, they have theirs, and we know that. So it takes a lot of commitment to be able to get this dialogue back on track. And the Indians, I know, are talking with your government about the trial of the Mumbai defendants. They obviously take that very seriously, as they understandably would. Your government is talking to the Indians about how there can be clear lines of communication so that people don’t jump to conclusions. So there’s a lot going on. And we’re encouraging it, and we think that it would be so much in the best interests of both countries to build on what was done. There’s a lot of activity going on through Kashmir that hasn’t stopped – the bus routes, the trucking routes. There’s a lot of things that are going east – going back and forth between India and Pakistan that haven’t been derailed. But progress hasn’t continued and there’s a lot more that could be done, so we are going to do everything we can to try to make it happen. But you are right to point out that your government has to speak with one voice. That’s the thing that has to happen so that your military and civilian leadership together have to say this is what we want. And I think that is a very important development.

QUESTION: I don’t want to belabor the point, but you know what’s happened in the last two weeks is that the government and the military are speaking with one voice, and unfortunately, that voice is not terribly good. They’re raising the Kashmir issue again. They’re accusing India of fomenting trouble in Balochistan, and they’re – now the interior minister is openly coming out with statements that are as hostile to India as the Indians have been making against Pakistan. Things are not good. Instead of progress, I see a decline in India-Pakistan relations right now, and I’m very worried. I’m deeply worried and deeply alarmed. If there are forces here that want to derail the war on terror --


QUESTION: -- then this is the best thing to do.


QUESTION: So I really --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no, I understand this is a constantly challenging environment, and I can only assure you that we are doing everything we can to encourage your government, both military and civilian, to reopen that dialogue and to start building that confidence and to start moving forward together. Because if that doesn't happen, both sides are victims of the same threat.

QUESTION: But you see, many Pakistanis believe that India is doing some mischief in Balochistan, and there are so many conflicts in Afghanistan and NATO forces are there, your forces are there, and their (inaudible) because some people (inaudible) are encouraging India to do some mischief in Balochistan. And President Musharraf (inaudible) I believe 200 percent it is true that India is doing mischief in Balochistan. And now (inaudible) our interior ministry is repeatedly (inaudible) like that. We want to know what’s the reality, and why it’s not being contradicted by you and scoffed by you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we have no evidence of that. I mean, we just have no evidence of that. So from our perspective, we believe that anything like that, any charge that might be made like that – and Balochistan, as you know, is very – is a very volatile region. Look what happened with Iran just the other day. So who knows what’s happening in Balochistan. It is something that is very complex. There seem to be many players. I don’t know who they are, but we are not and we don’t know who is. I mean, we were blamed for the attack on Iran. We have nothing to do with that group in Balochistan.

So look, I think that the point that you were making is the right point. If this is not addressed by the two countries, then anything any of us say on the outside is not going to make a difference. The two countries have got to get back to working together; otherwise, this could spin out of control again, which is Najam’s point. And the terrorists know that. Why do you think they attacked Mumbai? They attacked Mumbai because there was too much progress going on between India and Pakistan. They don’t want India and Pakistan to come to any kind of accommodation.

So we are dealing with a very sophisticated enemy, and I think we have to get to the facts, whatever they might be, between the two countries. And I know that when Prime Minister Singh met with – I can’t remember whether it was your president or your prime minister – and he specifically addressed that charge. And I think that that needs to – there needs to be exchanges of information, but it only can happen in some kind of confidence-building dialogue process. I don’t think it can happen on a one-off, call me up and tell me what you know here, call me up and tell me what you know there.

Now, India has had its embassy bombed twice in Kabul, and they believe that Pakistani elements were involved in bombing their embassies. I don’t know if that’s true, but certainly the Pakistani Government should say, look, no, that’s not true, we had nothing to do with that. All of these issues have such potential for derailing everything, and that’s I guess, Najam’s point is we know that there are forces in both countries who benefit from this state of hostility and tension. The countries don’t benefit. The people don’t benefit. So how do you get – how do you marginalize and isolate those elements in both countries? And that can only come from leadership.

QUESTION: But the Government of Pakistan has not provided you any information or any evidence about the years of activity in Afghanistan or Balochistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Not that I’ve seen. Others in my government may have. I have not seen it. I have not seen anything like that. So I can’t agree with you because I personally don’t have any information. And I know what Prime Minister Singh said and I know what he said when he met with your leadership.

But let’s, for the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s true. Well, where does that lead you? The Indians think that your government was involved in the Mumbai attacks. Where does that lead us? I mean, at some point, we’ve got to get out of this zero-sum analysis. So even if you were to think the worst about each other, that the order to attack Mumbai came from government officials and the order to do whatever they were doing somewhere else in Pakistan came from the other side, then isn’t that even a stronger argument to increase confidence-building measures and to try to prevent those elements in each of your countries who are determined to prevent any kind of agreement between India and Pakistan, whoever they might be?

QUESTION: No, I think the point we are making is that India should not put conditions on the resumptions of the dialogue. That’s the best way to thwart all this – start talking. And the Indian prime minister --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will certainly --

QUESTION: -- wanted to move on this and I think the Indian media and others stopped him from doing so.


QUESTION: He’s just won a strong election. This was not even an issue in the election. This is the time for him to make this, and I think whatever the United States can do to get that resumption of that dialogue --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to assure you we are doing everything we can. I want you to know that. This is something that is very important because of our relationships with both countries, and we think it would be in the interest of both countries for this to happen.

QUESTION: My question is more about perception than about all of these facts that you have discussed so far. I think many journalists here and in the U.S. have written about that, and that is the tone of the relationships between Pakistan and the United States of America. It has become very sort of overbearing for the people of Pakistan to keep listening from the U.S., do more, do more, and then many thing else, and then Kerry-Lugar bill comes in, and then it brings in a lot of conditionalities. I’m not going into in terms of the details of those conditionalities (inaudible). But I’m just concerned about the tone of this relationship. Can’t something be done to make a relationship which is…

QUESTION: More alatable to us here? (Laughter)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, why don’t you tell me what that would be, because as I have said for the last two days, we certainly saw the Kerry-Lugar bill as a visible commitment of our government to the partnership we want to build even more strongly between our countries. And so why don’t you tell me, like you were telling me very helpfully about what you would like to see happen with India? So what is it that we could do? Because I think the Kerry-Lugar bill is a perfect example. For the United States Congress to pass a bill unanimously saying that we want to give $7.5 billion to Pakistan in a time of global recession when we have a 10 percent unemployment rate, and then for Pakistani press and others to say we don’t want that, that’s insulting – I mean, it was shocking to us. So clearly, there is a failure to communicate effectively. So what could we do that would be more helpful or more useful?

QUESTION: I think in my personal opinion, there is a lot of cultural gap involved here. What you think is a help or assistance to Pakistan, when it is couched in certain words and phrases, it becomes an insult for the Pakistani media and the public opinion in general. So I think instead of creating a language or focusing on the language that is very prevalent in the United States for its very own cultural reasons, I think when you’re dealing with countries like Pakistan which are very sensitive about their own identity, which take a lot of pride in their so-called sovereignty, there needs to be some cultural sensitivity involved when you word your legislation, when you word your statements, when you word your interactions with our people, with our government like this. In my personal opinion.

QUESTION: My concern is about the – I think the (inaudible) as we were discussing earlier that the Pakistani Government (inaudible) Swat, and (inaudible) it was a very, very localized problem. And then (inaudible) India and other countries is that the impression one gets is that everybody wants just (inaudible) that there is (inaudible) Pakistan at the epicenter. But it is (inaudible) from Pakistan, it is very widely spread, and we think – the people of Pakistan think that it is being fought in our backyard while the rest of the people who could have played a part in it, in fighting it, are not participating (inaudible) there is too much U.S., there is too much Pakistan in it, and it leads to certain kind of reactions in Pakistan especially.

My point is – my question is why can’t we involve other countries? I mean, if you want to make it truly global war against terror. (inaudible) to just involve the rest of the world? And when – so that it becomes truly (inaudible) from the world. Right now, what we are doing is just – in my opinion, just – we are just fighting symptoms and we are not really closing those channels from where the money comes in, their cash flows and all these things. I mean, they are countries which are openly supporting these elements.

So what are we doing on the world stage globally just to show the Pakistanis that it is not only just a war of the U.S. that we are fighting, it’s a war of (inaudible)? And again, what are you doing just – what is the U.S. doing just (inaudible) close those channels? They’re just a (inaudible) between two resourceful enemies, it seems. I mean, we are just providing them with foot soldiers, but they have the money, they are fighting it out with the U.S., which is (inaudible) more resourceful. But they have the resources. What have you done to just snap those supply lines?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve done a lot, and we have worked with the international community. We have, I think, a very vigorous effort to go after the funding that comes to the Taliban and al-Qaida. We’ve been partially successful, but not fully. We are trying to eliminate the funding that comes from the drug trade. We’ve adopted a more successful policy in going after the drug traffickers instead of going after the poor farmers who were growing the poppies. We have, I think, 42 nations with troops in Afghanistan, including Muslim nations like Turkey and the UAE and others.

So this is an international effort. Now, because of Pakistan’s sovereignty, you only have Pakistani military assets, except you have a lot of American equipment, you have equipment from other countries. I know that your military doesn't just buy from us. It buys from China, it buys from Russia, it buys from a lot of places. So in that sense, your military is going out looking for the assets it needs to take these people out.

But let me ask you something. Al-Qaida has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002. I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to. And maybe that’s the case. Maybe they’re not getable. I don’t know. But that’s something that in respect for your sovereignty, al-Qaida has run attacks against Indonesia, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, other countries, the Philippines, et cetera, through either direct or indirect approaches. So the world has an interest in seeing the capture and killing of the people who are the masterminds of this terrorist syndicate, but so far as we know, they’re in Pakistan.

So I think I am more than willing to hear every complaint about the United States. I am more than willing to do my best both to answer but also to change where we can so that we do have better communication and we have better understanding. But this is a two-way street. If we’re going to have a mature partnership where we work together on matters that really are in the best interest of both of our countries, then there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and your military security establishment.

So I think that that’s what I’m looking for. I don’t believe in dancing around difficult issues, because I don’t think that benefits anybody. And I think part of the problem that we’re facing in terms of the deficit of trust that has been talked about is that we haven’t taken seriously a lot of the concerns. I’m here to take them seriously. But I ask in the pursuit of mutual respect that you take seriously our concerns so that it’s not just a one-sided argument. And I believe that if we do that, we may still not agree or there may still be answers like, well, I don’t know what is happening in this province of your country or I don’t know what the reasons are that al-Qaida has a safe haven in your country, but let’s explore it and let’s try to be honest about it and figure out what we can do.

Because the enemy that we face – there’s no doubt that from what we believe, that many of the horrific attacks that took place in Lahore, the planning of the attacks on the military headquarters, the ISI, the university, et cetera, al-Qaida’s hand is in there. They train people. They fund people. And we’re doing our level best to break them up, to kill them, to capture them, to end their role in this terrorist network, which we think would be to Pakistan’s benefit. Because a lot of the people that you’re fighting now, they are influenced by, trained by, and fight alongside foreign fighters who were recruited and brought to Pakistan by the al-Qaida network. And I --

MODERATOR: Would you like to tell the Secretary about – you know, she asked – she said what do you think the United States should be doing in terms of the sensitivities that (inaudible) talking about.

QUESTION: I also want to make a point on that, yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Secretary, you – I know that there’s an argument against micromanagement and I know that there’s an argument against sort of excessive toing and froing, et cetera. But since we’re there already in many ways, including the Kerry-Lugar and other things, I know you’re aware of the potential for better understanding by managing the political leadership of the Punjab, particularly Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who has a lot of personal respect for you and for President Clinton. He is the leader of the Punjab, which is also the province from which the military is drawn, which is also the province which – parts of it – which have this – harbored this anti-India status quo pro military (inaudible) sort of mindset, if you like.

QUESTION: And now the terrorists.

QUESTION: And now the terrorists. The so-called Pakistai mindset, which, may I tell you, I come from a rural background 60 miles south of Lahore, and we don’t share that mindset, which is that, you know, we have to have enemies all around in order to sort of (inaudible) having these inside you. Are you seriously in touch with him and his party with regard to what a helpful role they can play in allaying these kind of misperceptions and fears that (inaudible) just mentioned, that (inaudible) spoke about? For instance, if Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s attitude towards the criticism of the bill had been more – less politically opportunist, let’s say, and more, let’s say, reasonable, rational, don’t you think it might have helped shape public opinion in Pakistan enormously and have also put naysayers in their place? And don’t you think that you need to talk to him more often – you personally, I think – and work with the political opposition, and also get them something from the government which they want in order to be able to work together in terms of the charter of democracy so that their fears about all-powerful presidencies, et cetera, can be allayed somewhat? A little bit of give and take so that the civilian process can move forward and not face the kind of challenges that can derail it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you make some excellent points, and I am going to see both Sharifs later today and we will have a broad-ranging discussion. But I think it is important to create an atmosphere in which the political parties, even if they’re in opposition, work together on some kind of common national agenda.

QUESTION: Absolutely.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Because it is important to have a stability within democracy in Pakistan, because it is still evolving. You know what you went through and had lack of democracy. So I do think that the political parties and the personalities should look for ways to cooperate and work together.

We were disappointed by the criticism because some of the criticism was just totally unrelated to the facts. And we reached out. I know that our ambassador and Ambassador Holbrooke and others talked to many people, and Senator Kerry came. So we did try to explain what our legislative language is like, that what we were talking about was not in any way unique to the Pakistani legislation, that we have all kinds of accountability that we impose on ourselves when we give aid, especially this amount of aid, that we have to answer to the taxpayer and to the public. So there was a lot that kind of just was ordinary legislative language in that bill that should not have raised those concerns.

And remember, this was just what we call an authorizing bill. This bill just created the opportunity for us to go to the Congress to ask for the money. But you’ve got to understand, I mean, the Congress is sitting there saying, God, I have all these unemployed people in my district, we are in tough shape in America, and this Administration is asking us to put a $7.5 billion commitment on the table? Well, they say it’s important because they really want to bolster democracy in Pakistan and they really want to create a good partnership. Okay, I’ll do it. Then they pick up the papers and they read that the people in Pakistan don’t want it. So I had members of Congress calling me and saying, well, look, if they don’t want it, why give it to them. So as I said to the press roundtable yesterday, nobody is making Pakistan take any aid. That is up to you. That is your decision. We thought – we have worked with successive governments in Pakistan, but the discussion about this bill goes back a couple of years because it started as a Biden-Lugar bill when Joe was still in the Senate. So it’s been through a lot of hands in Pakistan. It’s been through a lot of review – different administrations going from Musharraf through Zardari. Lots of people have looked at it. So when the criticism became so vocal, a lot of members of Congress are scratching their heads. I mean, they don’t understand all this nuance. They think, well, we’re trying to help somebody, we like Pakistan, we think they’re a good partner, and they’re being very brave in this fight against terrorism and it’s got to be a big challenge for them to deal with, so let’s help them. And I mean, nobody is going to make you take the help. That’s your choice.

QUESTION: But we were happy to hear from your ambassador that this was a mistake. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: One clause.

STAFF: Madame Secretary, we’ve got a signal from Huma.


QUESTION: You were talking of cultural (inaudible) aspect (inaudible) our own cultural values. Our (inaudible) says that (speaking in foreign language), I love you so much that I have complained against you at every moment. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Sounds like a marriage. (Laughter.) Well, we don’t want a divorce. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Did you understand the nuance?


QUESTION: The criticism here?


QUESTION: And where it’s coming from?


QUESTION: How it’s motivated and why it’s motivated? The people of this country want the help, so you have to explain this to Congress. It’s not we the people rejecting it.


QUESTION: Other people are rejecting it for their own reasons.

QUESTION: Just you last night in your interaction with the media person (inaudible) anchors.


QUESTION: You said that there are conditions (inaudible) when the aid is provided to them.


QUESTION: And although it was not a good example, Colombia, but you did mention that. But what do you want to say?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yeah, there are conditions. Absolutely. There are conditions on Israel, on Egypt, on --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)


QUESTION: Why do you think you establishing (inaudible) these settlements and refusing to accept the UN resolutions, killing the Palestinians, and that aid is there? That aid flows there. (Inaudible.) We have people here in Pakistan --

SECRETARY CLINTON: But that proves my point. It is that we put conditions that we are subject to. The money goes, and then we decide whether we’re going to continue the money. But it’s up to the countries to determine how it’s going to be used within the categories of the aid. So it is true that we have conditions in a lot of our aid programs because we have to answer to our people. And – but that doesn't micromanage the country that the aid is going to.

QUESTION: Because (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that, look, we all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that is a very serious and difficult problem that we are working hard also to try to resolve. We inherited a lot of problems. If you remember, when my husband left office, we were very close to an agreement because he worked on it all the time. The next administration did not make it a priority and did not really do much until toward the end. And unfortunately, we are trying to make up for some lost time, in my opinion.

So I can’t snap my fingers, just because we have a new administration with an inspirational young president, everybody’s going to do what we tell them to do, as evidenced by the reaction we got here. (Laughter.) So my view is we are doing the best we can, and we are trying to make a difference, and we are certainly listening and consulting and trying to be more sensitive so that people know what our intentions and our motivations are. Because we do want to see progress on all of these difficult issues – India, Pakistan, Israel, Palestinians. I mean, there are lots of very thorny problems that surely predate this Administration that are not going to be solved overnight. But I can guarantee you we’re going to work every day to try to help solve them, and that’s what we’re trying to do. And I’m --

QUESTION: You see the hundreds of Pakistanis have become the victim of this terrorist attacks. They are wounded. They are killed. They are handicapped. Well, will you please like to allocate some portion of your assistance for those people (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a good idea. Of course. And in fact, I announced yesterday we’re going to be providing more assistance, more humanitarian assistance.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) specifically for that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, this is up to your government. If your government asks --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. No, we are more than happy to do it. But the way this works is we are trying to respond to the needs and requests of the Pakistani Government. We’re not coming in to say here’s what you should do and here’s the money to do it. What this whole process has been about is what do you need and how can we help you meet your needs as you define them. If your government says this is a need, we will certainly work to fulfill it.

QUESTION: It’s good for people (inaudible).


QUESTION: I just want to leave you with one thought. After the Kerry-Lugar bill, the next big thing that’s going to come up is going to be the role of private security companies that assist your administration here and your personnel over here. There is a lot of misinformation going around, but there are also opportunities for exploitation of that. I would urge you to talk seriously with the Pakistan Government and with the Pakistani security establishment in order to minimize the blowback effect of anything – any unpleasant incident or anything like that. This is on the cards. Small things are going to be blown up. You are going to have a thing on your hands. It’s very important for you to be sensitized.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, certainly, we’ll do our very best to try to set the record straight and meet the legitimate concerns. Some things we’ll agree on and some things we will not, but I think that the larger hope is that we’re going to be able to work together and actually see progress between us.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

PRN: 2009/T14-13

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