Secretary Clinton's Remarks on Pakistan Misread in Pakistan
by Charles Lemos, Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:39:08 PM EDT
Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced $100 million USD in humanitarian support for Pakistan's emerging IDP crisis that involves somewhere north of 1.5 million people and perhaps as many as 2 million. In the question and answer portion, she said this:
QUESTION: What assurance do you have that our assistance will not go to expand their nuclear power and arsenal? And what brought it center stage? We've been helping Pakistan for years and years and years, poured a lot of money into it. Why now -- I mean, I don't say why now -- I know the challenge of extremists. But what is it that that has been broken down?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first I have to say how honored I was to share the podium and the stage with Helen Thomas last week at the NYU graduation ceremonies -- (laughter) -- where we were both given honorary degrees, and in Yankee Stadium, which was a pretty exciting experience.
You know, Helen, I think that it is fair to say that our policy toward Pakistan over the last 30 years has been incoherent. I don't know any other word to use. We came in in the '80s and helped to build up the Mujahideen to take on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis were our partners in that. Their security service and their military were encouraged and funded by the United States to create the Mujahideen in order to go after the Soviet invasion and occupation.
The Soviet Union fell in 1989, and we basically said, thank you very much; we had all kinds of problems in terms of sanctions being imposed on the Pakistanis. Their democracy was not secure and was constantly at risk of and often being overtaken by the military, which stepped in when it appeared that democracy could not work.
And so I think that when we ask that question it is fair to apportion responsibility to the Pakistanis, but it's also fair to ask ourselves what have we done and how have we done it over all of these years, and what role do we play in the situation that the Pakistanis currently confront.
I believe that what President Obama is doing with our new approach toward Pakistan is qualitatively different than anything that has been tried before. It basically says we support the democratically elected government, but we have to have a relationship where we are very clear and transparent with one another; where we have the kind of honest exchanges that have come out of our trilateral meetings, where we're sitting across the table and we're saying, what do you intend to do about what we view as an extremist threat to your country, which by the way, also threatens us.
And so in the last week I think we've seen an answer, which is very encouraging. And, therefore, it is our responsibility to support the democratically elected government, to be a source of advice and counsel where requested, but also to step in with aid that can try to make this government as successful as possible in delivering results for the people of Pakistan. That's what we are engaged in.
Now, we're doing this because we believe that the future of Pakistan is extremely important to the security of the United States. If we did not believe that I wouldn't be standing here, the President would not be directing us.
QUESTION: Why do you believe that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, because we think that the advance of extremism is a threat to our security; that al Qaeda and their extremist allies are intent upon attacking not only our friends and allies in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan, but our homeland and American citizens and interests around the world. And as the President has said, our goal, coming out of our strategic review of Afghanistan and Pakistan, was to defeat and disrupt and dismantle the al Qaeda network.
We have seen al Qaeda driven out of Afghanistan to find refuge in the mountains of Pakistan. I don't think anyone doubts their continuing efforts to plot against us. They have not given up on their desire to inflict damage, harm and murder on the United States of America. That is how we in this administration view the threat coming from al Qaeda and their allies. We have walked away from Pakistan before, with consequences that have not been in the best interests of our security, and we are determined that we're going to forge a partnership with the people of Pakistan and their democratically elected government against extremism -- and that's what we're pursuing.
What the Secretary of State omits about our 'incoherent' policy towards Pakistan was that beginning in 1985, Pakistan chose to defy the world community and begin developing nuclear weapons setting Washington and Islamabad on a collision course. Furthermore, the Secretary seems to have forgotten the role that Pakistan played in the 1988 uprising in Kashmir or that Pakistan's ISI controlled all the funding for Afghan Mujahideen. The United States provided the funds which were matched by the Saudis and the Pakistanis dispersed them to whom pleased them. Pakistan, then as now, was a rogue state supporting jihad in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Kashmir and the Horn of Africa. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the role of the Pakistani state in the BCCI scandal. Our policy towards Pakistan was not incoherent.
I bring this up because the Pakistani media is portraying these remarks with the following headlines: US wronged Pakistan for 30 years, admits Hillary and US created Taliban and abandoned Pakistan: Clinton. We are being take for a ride by Pakistan.