MODERATOR: I’m going to keep my introduction short, because I know why you’re all here. On the 21st of January, 2009, Hillary Rodham Clinton was sworn in as the 67th Secretary of State of the United States. Secretary Clinton joined the State Department after nearly four decades in public service as a lawyer, First Lady of the state of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, and United States Senator.
In 2000, Ms. Clinton was elected by the voters of New York as their first woman senator. In the Senate, she promoted access to affordable healthcare and served on the Armed Services Committee; the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the Environment and Public Works Committee; the Budget Committee; and the Select Committee on Aging. In 2006, she won reelection to the Senate.
It is my pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State for the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you and it is a real delight for me to be here. I want to thank Anjem Ramen for agreeing to moderate today’s town hall. I am delighted to be at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts. I want to thank Turik Gumera Kitab, who is the acting director, and I want to express my appreciation to all of you for being here. And let’s give another round of applause to the entertainers who I could enjoy from out in the hallway there. (Applause.)
This is my sixth visit to Pakistan and it is another opportunity for me to hear from Pakistanis. I have found the interactions with so many different groups over the years to be especially helpful, whether it is at a reception or in a town hall. And it is exciting for me to hear your questions and your ideas about how we can broaden and deepen our relationship.
I just came from an important meeting of the strategic dialogue between the United States and Pakistan that Foreign Minister Qureshi and I are chairing. It is an attempt to really get below the surface and to expand the dialogue beyond our mutual concern about security. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. We are working in 13 different sectors. We heard reports today about what is being accomplished, because our goal is to move beyond talking to listening, and then beyond that to acting.
This is a broad, intensive collaboration. And at every step, we have incorporated the information that we have gleaned from the interactions with Pakistanis. During my time here last October, people raised several issues over and over again, including water, energy, health, jobs, and we hadn’t really focused on water before the dialogue began. And now we are and it is one of our most productive task forces. Earlier today, I announced the construction of two hydroelectric dams, the rebuilding of municipal water systems in Peshawar and Jacobabad, improvements to water systems for millions of people in Southern Punjab, the renovation of three hospitals – Lahore, Karachi, and also in Jacobabad. All of these projects were made possible by the Kerry- Lugar-Berman funding and they all reflect suggestions from people like yourselves.
So these conversations are not just theoretical. They affect the lives of people here and across this country. So today, I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you, because this is not just a government-to-government dialogue. I just met with some business leaders and heard from them firsthand about some of the challenges that business faces and what more could be done. We see Pakistan’s vibrant civil society as an equal partner, because civil society has been at the heart of much of the progress that has occurred in recent years. Civil society led the charge for democratic reforms, for equal access to justice for women, including the recent passage of the law against sexual harassment, for the continued fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
And the world has seen the effects of your engaged citizenry. In the aftermath of the horrific attack on Data Darbar, thousands of people marched in Lahore to express their contempt for terrorism and their commitment and connection to a peaceful future. I took great heart and was incredibly inspired by the courage shown.
Another group that is critical, as I just discussed with the business leaders, is how we increase business activity, particularly entrepreneurial activity, and create an attractive, magnetic climate for investment and trade. Pakistan has made great strides in recent months to emerge from its economic crisis and you’ve made key reforms to encourage new businesses and attract foreign investments. But there are difficult decisions ahead, difficult choices about the next wave of reforms, including meaningful tax reform that includes the agricultural sector in order to set Pakistan on a long-term path to growth and create a revenue basis that can provide the services that the people of Pakistan deserve.
Under the Obama Administration and the Zardari Administration, Pakistan and the United States have embarked on an ambitious journey. We want to try to solve problems that have troubled our nations and our relationship for decades. We want to contribute to building an enduring peace and lasting prosperity for Pakistan and this region. And we want to expand opportunities so that every boy or girl born in Pakistan has the chance to make the most of his or her God-given potential.
For too long, our countries have been hampered by a trust deficit which has held us back. We understand the reasons for that and we accept the responsibility for the role that our actions have played. But we need to rebuild that trust slowly but surely, day by day, through engagement at all levels between all sectors. This is difficult work. It demands patience and persistence. It demands a recognition of our different perspectives, but a willingness to overcome those differences that really do not divide us, but instead mark cultural and historical experiences and give us the opportunity to both respect one another and learn from each other.
We’ve made real progress in the last 18 months, and I think there’s a lot more progress that we can make. I was reminded by a Pakistani friend that when I was a child, I was fascinated by space travel, and for a short period of time, wanted to be an astronaut until I learned that the United States was not accepting women astronauts, and certainly not people with poor eyesight, which I had. But I’ve always been fascinated. And what we are attempting to do, my friend said, is something like launching a rocket into space. It takes a huge amount of work and fuel to send a rocket out of our atmosphere. But once it reaches space, it takes very little energy to stay there. Escaping gravity is the hard part. Rockets travel millions of miles for days at a time and almost all their fuel is used up in the first minutes of their journey.
Well, we’re trying to escape the bonds of gravity to leave behind a period of mistrust and launch a new era of cooperation. It demands a great deal of us now, but over time, as our partnership grows, it will become easier, because it will be sustained by stronger ties of goodwill and mutual understanding between the Pakistani and American people.
So I look forward to hearing your ideas about how we can launch this rocket, how we can enjoy the journey together, and how we can see tangible results of our efforts.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. Before we start taking questions, I –we’ll try to take as many as we can, but all of you have a message for the Secretary of State. So we have set up an email account for this event, and that email account is Pakistantownhall@gmail.com. And you can send your questions, the ones that I’m not able to take, to that email address. Thank you.
So we start with the questions. Who’s going to be on? Okay, just a second. Please state your name and where you’re from.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Adnan Rehmat. I’m from Intermedia, a media development NGO. Pakistan’s media is the freest, not just in the Islamic country – Islamic world, but trumps its counterparts in large parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But it is strange that the U.S. does not engage with the media as much as it should, considering its new emphasis on strengthening relationships with the people.
When will your government prioritize engagement with the people through the media so that their stake in the strategic relationship with the people can be strengthened?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I agree that that has not been our policy until recently. And as you might remember in October, I was here and said that I would engage with the media. I did a lot of media. I did a live town – or a roundtable with a group of leading media figures. I met with others in Lahore as well. And our Embassy has been directed to engage much more with the media. Now, why is that? Because we agree with you that the media in Pakistan is freewheeling, it’s free, it’s quite influential, and we need to be in the mix of the media in Pakistan.
Secondly, because we read a lot of things in the Pakistani media that are just not true, and if we let it be believed without at least attempting to refute it, then the people of Pakistan might believe what is in the media is not true. So for both our respect that Pakistan has such a free media environment and our desire to try to set the record straight where we think it is not, we have dramatically increased our involvement with the media. After this town hall, I will have another roundtable with media representatives. And so we’re doing very much.
If you have ideas as to what else we can do, I would appreciate them, because a number of people with whom we’ve been working over the last 14, 15 months have said the same thing. We see a lot of the changes, a lot of the progress in the relationship, but it isn’t often reflected in the media, and the Pakistani people don’t know. Well, some of that is just a question of repetition and engagement. But some of it is we have to be more effective in how we deal with the Pakistani media. So we are trying to do that and we would welcome the advice that anyone might give us.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. My name is Ayesha Khan and I work in the Ministry of Health in the Health Policy Unit. It’s very encouraging to see how the U.S. is investing in health and education and infrastructure. From the inside, concerned citizens – many concerned citizens are trying to build systems, because eventually, in the long term, systems are what’s going to help our country.
As an investor and as a big investor to Pakistan, what new steps – and this is a question and a request – what new steps is the U.S. taking to make sure that the money that you invest actually makes systems and gets some real results? Because while we’ve seen a lot of investment, we’ve really not seen very much results. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate your work on behalf of health and the health ministry. And we recognize that we have to create a very strong working relationship with our counterparts in the Pakistani Government at both the national and the provincial level. And therefore, we’re working, number one, to create that connection so that what we’re doing is in response to the Pakistani Government’s plans for creating and improving health systems.
Number two, we obviously have some targeted investments that we’re trying to make, and we are targeting maternal health, because we think it’s an area that has been underinvested in. And we know from vast experience and reams of research that investing in maternal health has such a payoff for families and for children and communities. But we also believe that there has to be a kind of roadmap plan for the entire country, so that the benefits of what we are doing are connected with what other donors and, most particularly, the people and Government of Pakistan are doing for themselves.
So when I announced today that we were making some health investments, we are clearly trying to make investments that we think will serve as centerpieces for system developments. So for example, the Karachi Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, we want to train people, more midwives, nurses, doctors, particularly in OB/GYN surgical training, so that we can have a centerpiece of training that can then affect the growth of a system. When we are looking at the Lady, the Lahore Lady Willingdon Hospital, it’s the largest maternity hospital in Pakistan. And we think improving that hospital, which will increase access to service by increasing the bed numbers from 235 to 600, will begin to create a maternal health system for that region of Lahore and surrounding areas, particularly for low-income women.
So as you can see, we’re doing specific projects but we want to root them in exactly the kind of systematic change that you’re referring to.
QUESTION: Excellency, as we all know, and you know better than us, that the residents of FATA are denied basic humans rights. They are still ruled by a black law called FCR under which, if a – quote – “hardcore criminal” commits a crime in FATA, even a young guy living in Islamabad doing his studies, can be put behind bars.
You’ve been the largest donor of Pakistan. Why aren’t you using your influence to make the government issue just one executive order to do away with this law?
QUESTION: My name is Fayad Alikhan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, thank you for raising this. You’re the first person who’s raised this particular law with me in my experience, and so I will immediately look into this. I don’t know the details on it, so I don’t want to give you a glib answer. But clearly, we raise human rights with the government in every one of our dialogues because we believe that it is important to respect the human rights of all people, and the laws should reflect that respect and there should be due process and constitutional guarantees. So I will look into this particular law and we will follow up on it.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Sana Mehmood and I am a member of the YRS Football Club. I’m here with my team. Our team was initially funded by the U.S. Embassy and it helped establish our club in Pakistan. My question is: What more is being done in the field of women’s sports, especially to bridge gaps between Pakistan and the U.S. and to empower women, and whether you have plans to extend further support?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, congratulations for your football team, and I’m proud that the U.S. Embassy provided funds for you to get organized and get started. I’m a big believer in sports for young people, both young men and young women. And certainly in our own country, we have seen a growth in organized sports activities for young women. But I’m old enough to remember when that was not the case and it took a lot of work, effort, and frankly it took a law, a law called Title IX, which required that schools that had male sports teams also had to provide athletic opportunities for young women. So the growth then of team sports for women was just exponential.
So we will look at the aspect of our Strategic Dialogue on cultural exchanges, make sure it includes sports, and look for ways that we can do more to benefit and encourage young women in sports. And I thank you for raising that.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Mahmoud Shah and I work for – as a communications person for one of the USAID-funded program here in Pakistan, focusing mainly on pre-service teacher education. My question relates to the nature of my job, which is outreach communication. As we all know that we are working in a very (inaudible) and sensitive environment. In most areas of Pakistan – in some areas at least, USAID has a negative connotation. So my question would be to have your suggestions on how you – either for (inaudible) or judicious use of planning and marketing protocols applied in Pakistan so that we can achieve desired results.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. I’m aware of the fact that in some parts of Pakistan, U.S. aid is not appreciated and that bothers me a lot because you’ve got to understand that from an American perspective, especially during the economic crisis that we all have encountered and a higher than usual unemployment rate in the United States, the idea to, say, an unemployed autoworker or a laid-off secretary somewhere in the United States that the aid we provide to a country may not be appreciated, raises the question in their minds, well, why are you sending money to a country that doesn’t want it.
So it is a challenge for us, and we are looking for ways to convey our commitment to Pakistan which we believe is, and must be, an enduring commitment with, at the same time, changing attitudes among those segments of the Pakistani population that either believe or are led to believe that somehow our assistance is either not wanted or disregarded. And I think we have a lot of work to do.
I think the first question about the media is a good one because we have to do a better job of conveying what we are doing. And it’s our belief that the vast majority of Pakistanis appreciate what we’re doing. But as is often the case in any society, a small minority can have a disproportionate influence on the public discourse.
So again, I invite your ideas. What is a better way of conveying that information? The young woman who thanked us for supporting the football club, I’m sure there are people in Pakistan who don’t think the United States should be supporting young women to play football. So it is hard to – you can’t please everybody and we have no intention of doing so. But what we’ve tried to do in the Strategic Dialogue is to target our aid in those areas where we are told by the Pakistani people themselves it is wanted and needed. And education, especially teacher training, is an area of vast need. I mean, you know yourself there are not enough schools and not enough teachers and not enough materials in order to provide a decent education for every Pakistani child. This should be an overwhelming goal of the Pakistani people. And we’re going to try to help make progress there.
Or as the young woman from the health ministry asked, we’re doing work to try to make it safer to deliver babies and for women to be well cared for. That’s a goal that cuts across every region and every political opinion. So how do we convey that what we’re doing is investing in the mothers and children of Pakistan? Obviously, we’re trying to do more than we did before where for too long our relationship was largely a security and military-driven relationship, and that is important. I would be the first to acknowledge that. But there is a lot more to Pakistan than the security challenges and the threat of terrorism.
So what we’re trying to do is broaden our engagement and convey that as effectively as possible. So the embassy is doing more. We’re doing more out of Washington. But we frankly need a dialogue within Pakistani society about that, that makes clear we’re trying to help you achieve your goals, not our goals but your goals. Why? Because we really believe that Pakistan can have a very positive future. But in order to do so, you have to invest in the most important capital there is – the human capital, in the education and healthcare and training and skills and employment of the Pakistan people. And we’re going to try do everything we can to further that.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam, my name is Maraj Amonghun, and I’m an education and development professional from Peshawar. We welcome your efforts, very serious efforts to bridge the gap between the two – our two nations and to build more cordial relations based on trust, mutual trust, and faith.
But sometimes we feel that that may help us to come out of our own slumber of maybe one thousand, more than one thousand years of intellectual slumber which has kept us back for some reason or the other. But Madam, coming from Peshawar, where everything has been shattered, sometimes we feel that the steps that you take – it’s like two steps forward and five steps back. Our education system has been completely shattered and destroyed. Health system – there’s hardly any. And while USAID is building up its own efforts to reach out to us, other donors have left us because Peshawar has been – NWFP has been declared a red zone. (Inaudible) running a very effective child labor project. Until recently, it was known worldwide and it was going to be replicated in Afghanistan, but suddenly it had to come to an end. The consulate started very nice innovative activities in Peshawar and around, but those had to be wrapped up because of the security situation. How do we overcome that?
Then these large engagements with the Taliban that you are going into. It’s a welcome step once again. We would like to know a little bit about the framework that has been designed and what role the civil society in Pakistan can play, especially women who have suffered most in the war against terror. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Yes, let’s give her a round of applause for the work that she is doing. (Applause.)
I am deeply sorry about the difficult circumstances in Peshawar. As you said, the United States remains committed to doing what we can to work with you and others and to try to provide support for civil society in Peshawar. I’m aware that other donors are just, frankly, too nervous. They get – they are deeply concerned. I mean, I share that concern. Our consulate in Peshawar was brutally attacked a few months ago. And – but for the grace of God, the security would have been breached by people who were out for destruction and willing to kill themselves in order to kill others. So I take very seriously the security concerns.
But the people who have suffered the most in Peshawar are the people who live and work in the area, and particularly women and children. The attack on the women’s market was one of the cruelest, most despicable acts that has happened in a long list of such acts. To go where women and children are shopping and to deliberately kill them in the dozens and dozens is a sign of inhumanity that is hard to comprehend.
So we will continue to look for ways that we can work with you. I will ask the Embassy to follow up on your child labor project and see if we can’t continue to find ways to support what you’re doing, because we are very much in favor of that kind of effort. But the answer is for the vast, vast majority of Pakistanis who decry violence, who are dismayed by the activities of what is a relatively small group to turn your backs on them, to deny them any support, to turn them in to authorities, to prevent them from metastasizing like the cancer that they are. Because in the end, it is not up to your military, which has sacrificed a lot in the actions in Swat and Malakand and South Waziristan. There is no military victory. There must be a defeat of the ideology and the actions of those who thrive on violence and extremism.
So while your military, with our help, try to go after those who have caused such death and destruction, it is really ultimately up to the people of Pakistan to make it clear that we can have different political beliefs, we can have different religious interpretations. But at the end of the day, we do not condone such violence. That has to be a universal message like the march in Lahore after the bombing of the shrine. That message will do more to isolate these extremists and eventually bring about their elimination than anything else. So let’s stay united in trying to achieve that.
MODERATOR: Before I hand over to the next gentleman for his question, I’d just like to say could you keep your questions precise and concise? Because I’d like as many people to get their questions over to the Secretary.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam. My name is Zahid Maqbool and I’m president, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce.
Madam, we acknowledge and appreciate the U.S. assistance in solving our economic and social sector, even football for the ladies in Pakistan. (Laughter.) But the most serious problem which we are facing is the energy problem, and that is resulting our industry running 60 percent under capacity. So that requires your very, very, very serious attention to resolving and helping Pakistan in our energy sector.
And my question – and also we request U.S. to provide us assistance in getting easy access to the (inaudible) U.S. markets. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, those are two very important issues that we’re working on.
First, as to energy, when I was here in October, I said we were going to revamp United States assistance, revamp what we provided aid to, and better utilize the influx of aid that the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation offered. Prior to the Obama Administration, we did spend quite a bit of money in Afghanistan, but it was often on things that the – in Pakistan – but it was often on things that people in Pakistan didn’t know we were spending it on, or it wasn’t a priority of the people of Pakistan. So it was like a total misfit where we were spending this money and yet, people didn’t know it or didn’t think it was important.
So we listened, and as I said, energy and water were among the two highest priorities. So today, I announced additional aspects to our energy program. We will complete the dam and the powerhouse at Satpara Dam. We will complete the dam, the powerhouse transmission at Gomal Zam Dam. We are working on a smart grid and distribution modernization feasibility study. We are working on a study on the Multan Northern Generating Company repowering to try to determine how we can convert the aging and inefficient multi-thermal power plant into a more efficient station. We are funding a biomass-fueled boiler feasibility study for Bulleh Shah Paper Mill. We’re looking at the Gharo Corridor for a wind farm feasibility study. We are going to provide solar power to the Beaconhouse schools because we want to demonstrate that it can be done at relatively low cost. We are working with Pakistan in identifying and furthering the development of your natural gas resources.
So we have tried to take a broad-based view, and it is important – to go back to the woman from the health ministry, it’s important that what we do be part of a bigger system. So they’re not just one-off projects. So we’re working with the power and water officials because there’s been a tradition in Pakistan of building and then neglecting and then rebuilding. We need to end that. We need to build, maintain, and build on. And part of our challenge is to help the government and the private sector work together more effectively, create a cadre of technical expertise that Pakistan can call on, solicit American and other international funding with the business leaders I met with before coming in. A number of them are in the power field and that was their biggest ask – how can we get more American investment, American guarantees. And we’re going to follow up on that.
That’s connected to the market access issue that you mentioned, and we are working to provide greater access. It, again, is challenging, but we are convinced we will get there. The ROZs, which passed one house of Congress, is – now we have to get it through the other house, namely the Senate, and I’ve been meeting with senators and talking with them about the importance of this. So the President and I are making a big push on the ROZs. We have just concluded an agreement for market access for Pakistan mangos, which I have personally vouched for, so I hope it’s the very best that Pakistan can send us so we’ll get a lot of people hooked on Pakistan mangos.
But we take your question to heart because we need more market access and we need more ways of creating more business-to-business connections, more investments by American businesses, and we’re working on all of that. And again, I welcome any of your ideas. We have the – what is it, Pakistantownhall@gmail – is that the address?
SECRETARY CLINTON: And we will read what you send us, so please send us your ideas. (Applause.)
QUESTION: It’s a pleasure to meet you again, Secretary Clinton. My name is Roshani Zafur and I think there’s a third energy that we haven’t talked about, and that’s women’s economic empowerment, which is dear to your heart, as I know. And I would really like to urge the U.S. Government to consider the business case of investing in women across Pakistan. It’s not a parochial problem. It’s an issue that reflects across society, so that’s one point that I’d like to raise.
Another question that I have is more about the U.S. aid money coming into Pakistan. We’ve had a lot of confusion around this issue. Sometimes we hear it’s going through government, sometimes we hear it’s going through civil society. We’d really like the money to start flowing through and we’d like to understand how that is going to be resolved and how quickly can that money get through to us. Because we know what our problems are, we know what our issues are, and we really want to get going. So I’d like to hear more about that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I’m in absolute agreement on your first point about women’s empowerment, and in fact, we added a task force to the Strategic Dialogue to address women’s empowerment. And we are looking at a broad cross-section of ideas that we think could be helpful; certainly, microcredit, which has proven so successful. I mean, one of the mysteries is why does Bangladesh have so much more microcredit than Pakistan? I mean, it’s a hard question to answer, and we want to generate a lot more microcredit inside Pakistan.
There are some very good programs in Bangladesh and in India that I think could be real models for how we can organize microcredit effectively. But microcredit is not just about giving loans to women to do their kind of cottage industries. Microcredit enables some extra income in a family that then – usually, the women will reinvest in improving life for the children. I mean, across the world, from Latin America to Africa to South Asia and East Asia, microcredit has proven to be a real benefit for women in intact households and women who are widows or otherwise on their own.
So we want to do more on microcredit. We want to also go above microcredit into small businesses and medium-sized businesses to try to create more credit that is available to women-owned businesses. The entrepreneurship summit that we just held in Washington had a number of representatives from Pakistan there. And there was a lot of networking among women entrepreneurs, because there are so many unmet needs in Pakistani society that could be addressed by women-owned businesses. So we’re going to come with a full package and we’re working closely with the government but also civil society to design that.
And that goes to your second question, because we’re distributing money in both ways. We’re increasing the amount of money that goes through the government with appropriate safeguards and accountability, but we’re also looking for more partners in civil society. And Dr. Raj Shah, who is our Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development, is here with me. And he is looking for ways to bolster government capacity, but also to utilize civil society to produce quicker results both on their own and in partnership with government. Like for example, if we do microcredit, the more successful programs are nongovernmental programs. But the government often can provide seed capital to help start a microcredit. So that kind of partnership is what we’re looking to foster.
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I work for (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Is your mike on?
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I work for (inaudible) national bank. My question, ma’am, is that you see we’ve been your partner for the last over three decades. And in first Gulf War, we witnessed that Egyptian – Egypt’s foreign debt was written off by U.S. So that is, I think, just of the entire story, that somehow, if our debts can be written off, that will help us improve our social sector and – because right now, our debt servicing ratio is 56 percent. Out of hundred dollars, we are spending $56 for just debt servicing, and we are in a vicious circle of foreign debt.
Your take on it, please? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the bilateral debt we have is relatively small. I may be wrong about that and I have a lot of expert types – 1.6 billion? So there’s about 1.6 billion in bilateral U.S.-Pakistani debt. The much larger part of your debt is the Club of Paris debt, and that’s, what, 14, 15, 16 billion, something in that vicinity. But I will certainly look into this and see what the response would be on debt forgiveness or reduction.
QUESTION: My name is Faisal Malik. I am artistic director of Thespians Theater and a recent fellow of John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Welcome in Pakistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: My question is, as you know, theater proves to be an active tool in raising social awareness and addressing social issues.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The arts?
QUESTION: Yeah. The theaters, you know.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Theater.
QUESTION: My question is: Do you intend to propose any plan in order to boost this industry in Pakistan in this near future, especially for the nonprofit theater groups facing hardship in Pakistan? As this may develop social awareness among the urban and rural route, who may be inclined to join this industry?
SECRETARY CLINTON: And the answer is I don’t know. I believe strongly in the role of the arts and culture not only as a means of expression, but also, as you point out, a source of employment. In fact, there have been a number of studies done in the United States demonstrating that arts, artists, other cultural actors are very value-added to the economy. And so I think it’s a good investment. I don’t know that the United States will be investing, but if there can be greater awareness of the importance of the arts to a good economic mix inside Pakistan, that would be worth pursuing.
We, of course, give tax deductions to people who invest in the arts. And that might be a law that is worth looking at here in Pakistan as well.
QUESTION: Madam, welcome to Pakistan. Domestic and social violence has become a very major issue. In USA, the system to handle violence, social and domestic, is a wonderful system. I wanted to ask you, are you going to help us form such a system over here in the country and after how long?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry. I did not understand your question.
QUESTION: Domestic and social violence, in our country, has become a very alarming issue. I wanted to know, is – you have a very wonderful in USA to handle such issues, whereas we are still lacking much – way behind. How can you help us to form that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That issue is very much on the agenda for the women’s empowerment task force, because we’re aware of the domestic and social violence problem in Pakistan. And I commend the passage of the sexual harassment law. There are certainly lessons that we can share about how to deal with this problem that is rooted in history, culture, family, society. It’s a complex problem. But I agree with the thrust of your question that if you fail to deal with the social and domestic violence, you hold back whole families and generations, because there’s a cycle – a vicious cycle.
Children – we know children, particularly boys who come from a family where domestic violence is practiced or tolerated, themselves often become abusers, and that then leads to a whole cycle that undermines productivity and the well-being of significant numbers of people in the society. So it’s an issue that I think needs to be addressed internally. It’s not something that I think most people inside any society would be inclined to listen to if it came from outside. But if it comes from within, I think that’s a difference.
So for 30-plus years, we have changed our laws in the United States. As a young law student, I worked on child abuse cases which were not even recognized until the late 1960s and early ‘70s. So children would come into emergency rooms with broken arms, with cigarette burns, with brain damage, and they’d say, “Oh, the child fell,” or, “He fell downstairs,” or, “Ran into a wall.” And people just kind of ignored it. And then gradually people said, “Wait a minute. That child has a right to a safe life. And the family may need services and intervention, but whoever the perpetrator of the violence is, is committing a crime.” And we changed our whole approach in the last 30 to 40 years. But it was internally generated, and so therefore, I think it is useful for civil society and Pakistan to look at what laws need to be changed; but more than laws, what mindsets, what attitudes.
I am devoted to women’s rights because I believe that for too long, in too many places in the world, women have been denied their basic rights and have been treated as second-class human beings. And therefore, it was not only a matter of justice, but it seemed to me it was a matter of common sense. Because if a large segment of a population in the 21st century is denied rights to be educated, to have healthcare, to contribute to the community, to contribute to the family, then the whole society is held back. I’ve done this work for many years and I’ve met many women who were the first in their families to be educated or the first to go into the formal labor market. And the standard of living for the family rose. So this is not just about empowering women; it is about creating the circumstances for higher standards of living and income for the entire family.
So I think you are really on the right track to raise this, and we will, of course, provide advice and expert assistance and the lessons we’ve learned, but this needs to come from within. This has to be generated from the mothers and the fathers and the grandparents who stand up and finally say, “It’s not right. It’s not right to treat women and children this way. And we can do better.”
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, welcome to Pakistan. I’m Deena Shavid and I’m one of the Fulbright scholars. I came back to Pakistan in August 2009. I spent one year in the U.S. and it was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot of about American culture and its people.
I wonder if there should be more scholarships, especially for women, and there should be more U.S. citizens, which we do not see right now, coming to Pakistan and learning about our values, our family values, our culture. And I believe that in the – excuse me, in the long term, it would really help to reduce the anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I agree a hundred percent. We want to see more scholarships. We want to see more educational exchanges going both ways, as the young woman just said. We want more Pakistanis coming to the United States and more Americans coming to Pakistan. And we hope that we will begin to generate not only government funding for that, but private funding.
One of the things that we’ve done in the last year is to work with a group of Pakistani Americans to create the Pakistan American Foundation. That’s a tax-exempt foundation under U.S. law where Pakistanis who move to the United States, and have been very successful in every walk of life, want to find ways to give back to Pakistan. And it is important that we create those channels. And so we’re looking for private sector donations that will enable more young people to participate in these exchanges. So I thank you for talking about your experience, and we’re going to be looking for additional ways to give more people the experience that you had.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary of State, welcome to Pakistan once again and I am meeting you for the second time. My name is Sameer Cader and I’m a business man from Islamabad. My question to you is that you have announced hydropower projects amongst others for Pakistan, which are commendable and laudable, but nothing on the civil nuclear power plants. As we expand our nuclear ties with China, you have reservations to have these deals closely inspected and monitored.
There seems to be a mistrust in your mind about an energy-hungry country like ours. How can we remove these mistrusts to benefit from your civil nuclear technology accessible to India and not to ours? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we recognize the desperate need that Pakistan has for more energy. And we support a comprehensive approach to meeting those energy needs. With regard to civil nuclear power, there is a process that everyone has to go through to obtain the support of the international community, the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Everybody, including India, had to go and get permission to go forward. And our view is that Pakistan does as well. There was a recent meeting in New Zealand where a number of questions were asked of both the Chinese and the Pakistani officials who were there and people are looking for those answers.
Now, I just want to be very candid with you, because that’s the nature of our relationship, and I want to be sure that we are openly communicating. The request by the Pakistani Government that we explore civil nuclear power was received and we are beginning the kind of intensive discussions that are necessary that we carried on with India over many years. And there are certain issues that will have to be addressed. They cannot be overlooked or put under the carpet. They have to be addressed. Export controls, and just very frankly, the problem with Mr. A.Q. Khan raises red flags for people around the world, not just in the United States, because we can trace the export of nuclear information and materiel from Pakistan through all kinds of channels to many different countries. That is an issue. So anyone who is dealing with Pakistan as we are, with the hope of reaching an agreement that could support civil nuclear power, has to answer these questions.
Pakistan right now is the only country standing in the way of the Conference on Disarmament of the World pursuing something called the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty – even to get into the negotiations. And it’s an international body that acts by consensus, which means everyone has to agree. Pakistan’s the only country not agreeing. So people say, “Why? Why would Pakistan be the only country not agreeing?” So I just want you to understand that we are fulfilling our commitment to pursue this and we are doing it with great seriousness. We’ve already teed up our team of experts to meet with their Pakistani counterparts.
But it is not a one-way street, as most of life is not. And therefore, there has to be some awareness on the part of not only the Pakistani Government, but the Pakistani people that certain questions that people have in their minds – not just Americans, but others as well, and the IAEA, which would have to be satisfied, must be answered. And now, we are going to do everything we can to try to facilitate those answers, but ultimately, the decision lies with the government and people of Pakistan.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, ma’am. I’m (inaudible) from Kashmir working in (inaudible) School. My question is this: There are too much – so much atrocities in Indian-held Kashmir. Being a superpower, why don’t you resolve this issue?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) I’ll do it before breakfast tomorrow. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: Unfortunately, that was our last question, Secretary of State Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a hard question to end on. Look, we are very supportive of increased dialogue between India and Pakistan. You know better than I that there are certain issues – and at the top of the list, Kashmir – that have divided India and Pakistan and, in my view, are impediments to developing a relationship that would be beneficial to both countries. I think Pakistan would benefit enormously from increased trade with India. And nearly every businessman I meet with whispers to me, “I wish we could do more trade with India,” because at least the Pakistani businessmen that I see believe they can compete, and they want the opportunity to compete. But we’re frozen. So I have publicly and privately supported the steps that have been taken to try to engage with India on a range of matters.
India has its list, at the top of which, you know, is terrorism in Mumbai. And if you were living in India, you would probably be concerned about it also. And at the top of Pakistan’s list is Kashmir and related issues. So nothing substitutes for intense dialogue. And it would be beneficial to see the steps that were taken in the last six, seven years to open up more interaction in Kashmir, to open the bus routes, to create more opportunities for the people of Kashmir to be built upon in a way that would allow both sides to concentrate on internal development instead of so much of their resources going into standoffs on glaciers, for example. I mean, at some point, it has to be recognized that for every dollar spent on this issue, a dollar isn’t spent on a school, on a teacher, on a health clinic, on a doctor, on job creation.
And we can only encourage; we can’t solve. Because at the end of the day, this is an issue that cannot – there’s no dictated response; this is what Pakistan must do, this is what India must do. No, we continue to encourage, we try to arrange and facilitate, but this is going to take a tremendous act of courage by political leadership in both countries. There’s no shortcut around it. And in most negotiations that I’ve ever been a part of, no one will be happy, which suggests it’s probably the only outcome you can get. If you get to an outcome where neither Pakistan nor India are completely satisfied, that’s probably the best you can do, and then to move on, to move on into a future where you have many more opportunities to develop Pakistan, which has so many resources and is now really poised at the brink.
The population growth pattern for Pakistan is a straight, upward trajectory; millions and millions of children more that will not get educated, millions and millions of mothers that will not get healthcare, millions and millions of young people who will not have access to a good job. That should not be the future. There is an alternative future, which is what we are supporting, and that is to try to create the conditions, including the resolution of outstanding issues with India, that gives the people of Pakistan what they were promised at the birth of this country – an unlimited set of possibilities. And I think that is within the realm of achievement.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)