Pakistan in Danger or Pakistan is Danger

Pakistan in danger : Clinton


updated 12:10 a.m. EDT, Thu April 23, 2009|| CNN

From Elise Labott

I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear-armed state,” Clinton said in an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday.

“I don’t hear that kind of outrage and concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan,” she added.

In her first congressional hearing since being confirmed, Clinton told the panel the chief goal of the Obama administration’s strategy is to defeat al Qaeda and prevent it from returning to Afghanistan.

Taliban militants, who implemented Islamic law in Pakistan’s violence-plagued Swat Valley last week, have now taken control of a neighboring district 60 miles (less than 100 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad. Watch as Taliban is emboldened »

But Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, told CNN that the situation is not as dire as Clinton seemed to describe.

“Yes, we have a challenge,” Haqqani said. “But, no, we do not have a situation in which the government or the country of Pakistan is about to fall to the Taliban.”

Taliban fighters moved into the Swat Valley as part of a peace deal with the government that has come under fire from U.S. observers. But Haqqani compared it to the deals U.S. commanders in Iraq made to peel insurgents away from Islamic jihadists blamed for the worst attacks on civilians there.

“We are open to criticism of that strategy, but to think that that strategy somehow represents an abdication of our responsibility towards our people and towards the security of our country and the region is incorrect,” he said.

Several members of Congress voiced concern about Islamic extremists gaining ground in Pakistan, including Committee Chairman Howard Berman, a California Democrat. He warned the United States cannot allow extremists to control Pakistan or operate with impunity along the border with Afghanistan.

Clinton said the international community is working closely to combat extremism in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Pakistanis themselves need to take responsibility. Watch Clinton express her concerns on Pakistan.

“Not only do the Pakistani government officials, but the Pakistani people and the Pakistani diaspora — many of whom are extremely successful Americans here, in academia, businesses, the professions and so much else — need to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents, to the Taliban, to al Qaeda, to the allies that are in this terrorist syndicate,” she said.

Last week, the Taliban imposed sharia law in the Swat Valley as part of a peace deal with the government, which appears unable or unwilling to stop the Taliban’s steady advance.

On other topics, Clinton said that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is an “imperative” for the Obama administration, which is taking a more active role in diplomatic efforts toward Iran.

“We are deploying new approaches to the threat posed by Iran, and we’re doing so with our eyes wide open and with no illusions,” she said. “After years during which the United States basically sat on the sidelines, we are now a full partner” in diplomatic talks on Iran.

She was vague in response to questions about how long it would take to get results on Iran, but said the process in place — under which the United States is interacting more directly with allies and reaching out to Iran — has potential.

“It is going to be a more successful engagement if our partners around the world understand they must work with us,” including the need to impose tougher sanctions on Iran if diplomacy fails, she said.

Clinton took part in several tense exchanges with committee members about President Obama’s decision to release classified memos detailing the Bush administration’s role in torture of detainees held in the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, asked the administration to release other classified documents that former Vice President Dick Cheney has said will explain the Bush administration’s position on interrogation.

Clinton responded that she didn’t consider Cheney “a particularly reliable source of information.”

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Pakistan in Danger or Pakistan is Danger”

  1. worldwatch Says:

    It’s the terrorism, stupid; not India: US message to Pak
    24 Apr 2009, 0424 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN

    WASHINGTON: The United States will institute benchmarks that Pakistan will have to meet, including scaling down its confrontational posture against India, if Islamabad is to earn the massive foreign aid Washington and its partners are lining up, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated on Thursday.

    The benchmarks will include moving troops from its border with India to its insurgency stricken areas to fight its homegrown terrorism problem, Clinton suggested, following up on the broad US prescription and advice to Pakistan that its grave domestic situation, and not India, constituted the
    biggest danger to its existence.

    Clinton provided the assurances about benchmarks at the urging of some lawmakers, but said she would prefer they remain an executive decision rather than legislative so that the administration would not be paralyzed. Some of the benchmarks would be classified, but the administration would share them with Congress.

    “You know, on a simple measure, is the Pakistani military still amassing hundreds of thousands of troops on the Indian border, or have they begun to move those toward these insurgent areas?” Clinton explained at a Congressional hearing, citing the example of one such benchmark. “What kind of kinetic action are they taking? How much? Is there increasing up-tempo or not? Is it sporadic, so they start in and then they move back?”

    “I agree with you completely that we need the internal benchmarks,” she told an anxious lawmaker, adding the approach would be across the government. “The intelligence community will have certain measurements; the Defense Department will; we (the State Department) will look as well.”

    The Pakistani government — and some of its supporters like Senator John Kerry — has opposed legislative benchmarks, especially those which condition US aid to Pakistan ending its sponsorship of terrorism against India, saying they are humiliating. But lawmakers on the House side are against giving Pakistan a free ride given what they say is its history of double-dealing.

    “I’ve been around this place 40 years. My experience with Pakistan during all that time is that it has always been Pakistan, which means it’s a country of dealmakers, but they don’t keep the deals,” said Congressman David Obey. “I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of the existing Pakistani government to do one blessed thing.”

    Other members also complained about Pakistan’s double-dealing – paying lip service to fighting terrorism while cutting deals with extremists. “How do we succeed in Pakistan if the Pakistanis themselves are either unwilling or incapable of making the tough choices and taking the tough action needed to confront the insurgency?” asked one Congressman.

    Following up on President Obama’s assurance that there will be no blank checks for Pakistan, Secretary Clinton also re-iterated what has become a virtual mantra in Washington in recent weeks: Repeated advice to Pakistan that it is not India, but Islamabad’s own home-grown terrorism that posed an existential threat to it.

    In an indication that US aid to Pakistan will be contingent on its India policy, even if it is not incorporated into legislation, Clinton said US officials have been “spending countless hours in really painful, specific conversations,” to convince Pakistan of the changed situation. Pakistan was slow to understand this, she suggested.

    “Changing paradigms and mindsets is not easy,” Clinton told anxious lawmakers, adding, “I want to underscore the feeling we get, which is that if you have been locked in a mortal contest with someone you think is your principal — in fact, only — real enemy, and all of a sudden circumstances change, it just takes some time.”

    Similar policy prescriptions and sentiments (It’s not India, it’s home-grown extremists) were expressed at a Harvard lecture earlier this week by General David Petraeus, chief of the US Central Command with oversight of Pakistan and the middle-east, indicating that US interlocutors are all reading from the same page.

    “The existential threat” facing Pakistan “is internal extremists and not India,” Petraeus said in the speech at the Kennedy School of Government, adding such an idea was “intellectually dislocating” for the institutions of Pakistan fostered on decades of projecting confrontation against India.

    Over at the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Pakistan crisis was taking a lot of President Obama’s time. Defense Secretary Robert Gates too chipped in, asking Islamabad to recognize the danger and take action.

    On her part, Clinton told lawmakers there is a growing understanding of the changed circumstances within the Pakistani leadership.

    “Now, there are no promises. They have to do it (act against extremists),” she warned.
    The problem of Pakistan will never end until Pakistan tries to make a friendship with India.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: