I cannot find where she made the original statement, but the following day, on October 30, 2009, the issue of Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan came up in this Townterview with Pakistani women journalists. It was a tough, gutsy thing for her to say on the ground in Pakistan. Tonight we know she was right.
Townterview Hosted by Prominent Pakistani Women Journalists
InterviewHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateIslamabad, PakistanOctober 30, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hello, everyone. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, everyone.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: I think you have a mike?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have a mike on.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay, good.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much for being here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I apologize for being late. This has been such a busy day, and I got very far behind. So please, accept my apology. I’m very sorry that you had to wait.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. Are we ready?
Well, hello, and welcome to a very special program and slightly unusual to what we’re used to here on Pakistani television. I’m Saima Mohsin, your host and moderator for today. Of course, today is not quite a (inaudible), but I’m, of course, from Dawn news. I’m joined today by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Thank you very much, indeed, for being with us today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Saima.
MODERATOR: So, we’re going to try and give you all a real 360 perspective in our discussions today. We’re joined, of course – I’m joined, of course, on stage today by a panel. And of course, we have an audience which is really unusual for us here in Pakistan. And we’ll be giving you the opportunity to ask your questions. Now, the audience, are almost all – almost all women. And of course, Madame Secretary has famously said that women’s rights are human rights. So that’s something to bear in mind. Now, alongside me, let me introduce the other anchors that are with me on stage today: Asma Shirazi from the late edition on ARY, of course; Sana Bucha who presents (inaudible) on GEO news; and beside me to my right is Meher Bukhari who presents news (inaudible) on Samaa TV.
And with you in the audience somewhere is Quatrina Hossein who is a political talk show host from Express news.
QUESTION: Thank you, Saima. And welcome, Secretary Clinton, to the town hall meeting, which is a new concept for us in Pakistan. So you have brought us something new. And I think let’s go straight to the questions.
Back to you, Saima.
MODERATOR: Thank you. So let’s get started. I’d like to start by asking the first question, Madame Secretary. You say you’re here to turn the page with Pakistan in terms of past U.S. relations. And everyone is talking about your charm offensive. You’re giving so much time to the media here, and we thank you for that. But we can’t forget the traditional relationship that Pakistan and the U.S. have had. So how difficult do you think and realistic is it for the U.S. to extricate itself from the military-to-military relationship that the two countries have had? And how delicate a balance do you think it’s going to be, who on the one side supports democracy in Pakistan and a democratically elected government, and on the other, keep the military on board as an ally?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Saima, first let me thank you all for participating in this. It is very important to me, as I spend time here in Pakistan, my fifth trip, which I’ve so enjoyed, to have this opportunity not only to talk to the press, but talk to the public. So let me thank you all for participating. What we are trying to do is three things. First, we have been longtime friends and allies going back to Pakistan’s beginning. Now, there have been high points and low points in our relationship, and we admit that. And what we are trying to do is to put it on a stronger foundation going forward.
But secondly, supporting the democratic institutions of Pakistan, while giving support to your military to deal with the real threats that Pakistan faces is very similar to what we do with many of our friends and countries around the world, where there is a strong democracy, but where there are some serious issues. South Korea comes to mind. We are a very strong supporter of the country. So that means interacting not only with the democratically elected government and not only with the military, but with civil society, with nongovernmental organizations, with higher education, with all of the aspects of society.
And I agree with the thrust of your question, I think over the last eight years, it has been unfortunate that our relationship has been viewed primarily through the security perspective, the war on terrorism, not that those are not important, because they are. We saw again with the terrible bombing in Peshawar how difficult the challenge that Pakistan faces in rooting out these extremists and these terrorists. But that is not what our relation should be. That is not what it will be at its best. So part of what I’m doing is to say, look, we need a broader, more comprehensive relationship, and that’s what we’re going to work to achieve.
QUESTION: But how delicate is that balance – pleasing the military and a democratically elected government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that that really depends upon the people of Pakistan, because we will support the democratically elected government because we believe in democracy and we think it’s in the best interest of not our – just our relationship, but the people of Pakistan. I spent about three hours last night with the Army Chief of Staff, General Kiyani and also with the head of ISI, General Pasha. And I was very heartened by their strong commitment to democratic civilian government. Now, I know the history of Pakistan, and it’s going to take vigilance and it’s going to take self-discipline on the part of the institutions. But mostly, it’s going to take the people of Pakistan saying, loudly and clearly, we respect our military, we appreciate their sacrifice, but we are committed to a democratic government. So I think that’s how we see it, and that’s what we want to support.
MODERATOR: Okay. Asma Shirazi, you have a question.
QUESTION: Yes, certainly. The people of Pakistan (inaudible) and actually there are some perceptions, and yours included, within the long history between Pakistan and U.S. relations. Look, Madame Secretary, we are fighting a war that is imposed on us, is not our war, that was your war, and we are fighting that war. But do you think that you are – I mean, are you satisfied with whatever is going on? And you had one 9/11, and we are having daily 9/11s in Pakistan. (Applause.) And do you think that you – (inaudible) we respect you. You are a prestigious lady and you are our guest. You are very prestigious to us. But can you define this trust deficit between the Pakistani people and people of USA or Government of USA?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with you there is a trust deficit. I regret that it exists, but I acknowledge it exists. And I think your audience knows exactly what I’m talking about. But let me just speak very briefly about some of the aspects of this that have to be overcome.
On the one hand, it is true that we have a common enemy, but I do not think that your enemy is your enemy simply because they are our enemy. I believe that the enemy you are facing has an agenda to control large parts of your country and to challenge the writ of government. I don’t know that that has much to do with us, but I believe that it is something we have in common.
I also believe that the extremists and terrorists who you are now fighting are part of what has developed over the last decade a kind of syndicate of terror. I think al-Qaida is at the head of that syndicate. I think they direct, inspire, fund, and equip and train some of the very same people you’re fighting. I’ve read some of the press reports about what your military is encountering in southern Waziristan. They’re not just fighting Pakistanis. They’re fighting foreign fighters as well who have come here to join with the Taliban in their assault on your government.
But I also think it is absolutely fair to say that over the last eight years, we have not been as either understanding or as helpful in some of what you are facing. We have been focused on what’s happening across your border. And we know that Pakistan has a strong ability to fight for itself. At this point, the people of Afghanistan do not. So we want to be more understanding and more cooperative to support you in what you are trying to do. It’s not just us. It is us together.
And I think that the relationship we are working on with your government, with other institutions, I believe strongly that Pakistan has so many strengths, so much really going for it, that we want a comprehensive relationship. I don’t want to be just talking about security when I come next time. I want to be talking about what we’re doing on behalf of women and children and what we’re doing on education and electricity and healthcare so that it is clearly seems that we want to make an investment in the people of Pakistan.
MODERATOR: Okay. Meher Bukhari has a question.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the reason people need understanding – I think it’s very – it’s (inaudible) which are still very big with the (inaudible) answer for something. Can you (inaudible)? You spoke about diplomatic immunity. I would like to ask you about two American private security companies have diplomatic immunity in Pakistan, and also (inaudible) director as to what’s formerly known as Blackwater, the international – would you like to (inaudible) directly to – yes-or-no answer to that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The answer is it probably depends upon their status. Some of them do not. And some of them, if they are under the umbrella of diplomatic immunity, do. But I can’t answer.
QUESTION: So some of them do?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Some of them would, but most of them probably do not. I think that is the best I can do without the specifics. But it also depends upon whatever the relationship is with the host government. And I understand the sensitivity about this, but I just want to be clear that why do we have any private contractors? Well, because we get dozens and dozens and dozens of threats every month toward our diplomats, toward our public officials who are here who do have diplomatic immunity. And our diplomats don’t carry weapons. That would be absolutely unacceptable.
But on the other hand, they want to get out into the country and they need security. So we’re trying to work with your government to get the proper definition of how we provide security for the people we are sending to Pakistan to work with the people of Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan. So we want them to be secure and we want them to do the work.
QUESTION: So that we have (inaudible), the international (inaudible) from prosecution?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Again, I – you have – and it’s not because – I am not saying because I know. It’s because I don’t know. It depends upon the individual circumstances.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you. Ambassador Holbrooke was sitting with us just a while earlier and he said it’s a two-way street when you talk about Pakistan and U.S. relationship. It’s a two-way street and you give us something and you want something in return, and – I’m sorry.
QUESTION: It’s working now.
QUESTION: Okay. I said Ambassador Holbrooke was just telling us that the relationship between United States and Pakistan is a two-way street. And obviously, Pakistan and the United States are not friends, they’re not foes, they’re not regional partners, and this friendship is not unconditional. What is it that you want from Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the – what we want is that Pakistan make a commitment to a democratic future and to the development of the people of Pakistan. But I think that’s what the people of Pakistan want. I mean, we have – and I will say this over and over again – we do not have an agenda other than to try to be more supportive of the achievements of whatever goals you set.
Now, we obviously had an opinion about the threat posed by the extremists, and we expressed that, but your government and your military is meeting that threat and we are helping them in whatever way they ask for. But what I think is most important is that we be your partner in trying to improve the lives and the livelihood of most Pakistanis. The other night, I was passing out certificates at the Benazir Income Support Program. I believe investing in women is one of the best investments you can make in any society. And I think investing in the women of Pakistan – (applause) – is a very, very smart strategy.
Well, if that’s what the people of Pakistan want, we are ready to help. Over and over again, we hear that the electricity system is not up to the demand that is put on it. So the first day I was here, I announced that we’re going to make a very big commitment to helping you help yourselves by improving your electricity system. So we’re not coming in and saying, “We think you should improve your electricity system.” We’re coming in and saying, “What are your biggest needs,” and over and over again, electricity came up. So we say, okay, here’s help that we can provide you. That’s what we’re trying to offer.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, let’s have some (inaudible).
MODERATOR: The audience is waiting, Asma.
QUESTION: Just one minute. You told yourself that we are making investment toward people of Pakistan. You see, there is another perception that you are micromanaging Pakistan – you are micromanaging Pakistani politics, you are managing an energy sector, you are doing everything. Is this perception true?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t see how it could be true, because what we are offering is in response to what the Pakistani Government, the democratically elected Pakistani Government, has told us that you need. And we are not going to be implementing these programs. But when we say, for example, that we’ll be helpful on electricity and your government says we need help repairing turbo wells that are across this country that provide water for irrigation, we say, “Well, we’ll sign up for that.”
Now are we going to go out there and decide which ones get fixed and how they are going to operate? Absolutely not. But we are going to say if we give you money for turbo wells, we want it to get to the turbo wells. We don’t want it to be siphoned off – (applause) – and end up in places that are not the people’s needs. That’s all we’re saying.
MODERATOR: Okay. Let’s move on and find out what the people of Pakistan, and particularly, the women of Pakistan want to say. Quatrina Hossein.
QUESTION: Okay. Madame Secretary, we have with us a question from a woman from South Waziristan, which is at the hub of the current operations.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m (inaudible). I’m a lecturer as well. Well, I asked a question regarding scholarship from Mr. Holbrooke and I guess he’s getting on with that. I won’t ask you a question as such. I would rather have a few suggestions. One, if you could kindly give the youth a chance to represent our area? Because I think the whole globe thinks we’re terrorists and we have very educated persons over there. And there’s another suggestion: The IDPs, yes, they are getting aid, but if some work can be done in their education and health, specifically women sector, I would really appreciate it, because I think if you want to bring a change, it’s going to be through education. So please (inaudible) Madame Secretary.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) call for a pause here. We need to change tapes (inaudible). It’s technical (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll keep that in mind. I’ll answer –
MODERATOR: Okay, please hold the thought, and we’ll be right with you. I am going to weave my way through the audience while the tape’s being changed. I will try to come to as many people as possible.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Should I go ahead answer it, or should we wait for the tape?
MODERATOR: Please wait.
STAFF: We need that on the tape.
SECRETARY CLINTON: All right, okay.
MODERATOR: That was a question from a young lady from South Waziristan. And I believe Meher Bukhari has a question she’d like to build on that.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) was saying and also (inaudible). I understand that you genuinely want investment development and into the right (inaudible). Just a question so how do you intend on achieving that, because the State Department (inaudible) and Ambassador Holbrooke, especially (inaudible)? What exactly is his role, and how do you intend on working with (inaudible) in Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great questions. Well, let me go to the first questions from the audience and say I agree with you completely that emphasizing outreach to young people, emphasizing education, are the long-term investments that will pay off. So I think we have to operate on sort of two lines at the same time: one, long term investments; and then short-term relief and the kind of aid programs that people can see the benefits of immediately.
And on healthcare, I’ll give you a quick example. During the problems with internally displaced people in Swat, in Malakand, one of the requests we got was for female doctors to work with the women who were IDPs. And what we did was to put out a call to Pakistani American doctors and nurses. And so we sent about a dozen Americans – Pakistani Americans – who were doctors to Swat to care for the women. And that led to another idea, so that we’re going to create a Pakistani American foundation so that successful Pakistani Americans can invest in projects back home. And we’re going to be kicking that off in December. And I think that according to the people working on it, they’re most interested in health and education, and they’re most interested in women and children. So we’re going to have some additional resources.
And then to go to the question about how do we organize this, well, you’re right; we sent Ambassador (inaudible) to come here for the purpose of organizing aid, to reaching out and getting the best ideas from the NGOs, from other voices around Pakistan. Because we know we spent billions of dollars on aid to Pakistan, but I bet there aren’t 10 percent of the people of Pakistan who know where that money went. They don’t know the projects we’ve done. They don’t know the results of our efforts.
So I think that we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to better organize our aid, to be more responsive to the needs of the people that they expressed to work more effectively with your government, and that’s what we’re committed to doing.
QUESTION: Can you take another –
MODERATOR: And we have another question here. It’s going to be (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you so much. I’m senior manager skills development from (inaudible) foundation. I have two questions. Number one is that a lot of U.S. aid money is coming to Pakistan, right? But why are there foreign contractors in war, because most of the money – taxpayer money – goes back to America, the management is there, they have their office in America, they have to give the management cost over there, then they set up an office in Pakistan, the management (inaudible) will do it there. And then some of the money goes back to the people, but quite a lot of money goes into the other contractors. Why is it that (inaudible) the contractors, number one? And number two –
MODERATOR: I want to give everybody a chance, so one question. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well –
MODERATOR: Yes, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I share your criticism. And when I became Secretary of State, I asked that there be a review done of all of our aid programs, because I was worried that, number one, not enough of the money was getting to where it was intended, for all kinds of reasons. And number two, we weren’t getting the results that we were looking for. We actually stopped a lot of the aid programs until we had a chance to review them. And I am determined to take on this problem that you talked about.
And I’ll give you a quick example. After the earthquake a couple of years ago, the Government of Pakistan asked for our help to try to rebuild and build schools, and we said we would. But they adopted a different model, and the different model was that we wanted to hire Pakistani engineers, Pakistani architects, Pakistani contractors, and of course, Pakistani workers, because unlike some countries, we do employ a lot more Pakistanis than some countries do. They bring all their workers from the outside, but we have a mix of workers. But we wanted to try a different approach. And I think of the people that were directly hired – there were 202 and there were only two Americans and there were 200 Pakistanis, so I just got a report about that. That’s the kind of model that we are looking to follow now. We want more of the money pushed down to the local level.
Now, we do have to have accountability, and that’s not micromanaging. We have to be able to go back to the American taxpayer and the American Congress and say, “You said you wanted money spent to help education, for example, in Pakistan. We put X millions of dollars in, and we can show you the results.” So we want to do it both ways: more Pakistanis on the ground delivering the services, but there has to be some accountability so that we know we’re getting what you all are trying to achieve.
QUESTION: I have a question based on aid coming to Pakistan. And it’s about pledges versus the funds actually coming through. Primarily, when the IDP situation happened, more than 2 million people were displaced in Pakistan. Yes, I visited those camps as many of my colleagues here did. And the people there felt that the international community had forgotten of them. We saw pledges and funds coming through to places like Darfur, so when Pakistan was (inaudible), people weren’t listening because they felt that Pakistan had brought the terrorists upon themselves. And there was a lot of pledges that are being made, but funding is not coming through. And the same with the FODP – a lot of pledges, the money is not coming through.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me test the audience and ask if any of you know how much money – I can only speak for the United States, but how much money we have already spent – not pledged, but spent – on the IDPs in Swat. Does anybody have any idea?
We have spent $300 million. But I bet hardly anybody knows that. And it’s very frustrating for us. Because I agree with you; the international community has to do more, and we are pushing them to do more. At the pledging conference in Tokyo, about $5 billion was pledged, and we pledged about a billion dollars and we have already spent or contributed $400 million of that.
So I hope you understand my concern that we feel like we’re doing things and we’re not getting through. We’re not being very effective, and that’s our fault. We are not communicating very effectively to the people of Pakistan. So I want to do a better job of that. And I’m not asking that people applaud us. I just want people to know, because I want to work from a base of facts.
QUESTION: But in terms of the (inaudible), how much pressure or encouragement is the U.S. giving to the international community to follow suit?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are pushing all the time, and it’s a very fair question. We’re putting more money into the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for the people displaced out of South Waziristan, and we’ve gone to the UN, and we’ve gone to the international community and we said you’ve got to help Pakistan because they’re taking on this threat which is a common threat. And we’re going to keep pushing them until we get some more results from them.
QUESTION: Madame –
QUESTION: Yes, I just wanted to ask you when you say about you are concerned about Pakistan and then you mentioned electricity being one of them and you mentioned education being one of them. And we are also very concerned, and all Pakistanis are concerned about that. We’ve always had an issue with our budget (inaudible) and we always see a great amount of that going into military spending. So the main concern here is are you addressing Pakistan’s main concern, which is across the border – and by that, I mean India – when you are coming here and putting (inaudible) checks and balances and creating this transparency and seeing it through that the money is being utilized, but you are doing it in a (inaudible) situation still, because you’re still not sorting or accepting that Pakistan’s problem with India still exists, and there’s a good chance that money could go – and that it’s been reported in newspapers across the globe that Pakistan uses military expenditure – the civilian aid that comes in is used for military purposes.
So if you’re so concerned about Pakistan’s concerns, this springs from an issue which you have dismissed time and time again as mere paranoia. But even paranoids have enemies, and we have one right across the border, regardless of what it will do or it wants to do is a different story. But it has the potential of causing great danger to Pakistan. That’s a threat, and Pakistani military and Pakistani establishment believes that. Until and unless that is sorted, we will always be not sorted.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think I’ve ever said that. But what I have said repeatedly is that it is clearly in both Pakistan’s and India’s best interests to try to resolve the concerns they have which give root to the feelings that people obviously have. And I respect that. So it is not for us to dictate any solutions, because that wouldn’t last a minute. But it is up to us, which we do – I did on this trip, I did it when I was in India, we do it every time we talk – to encourage both sides to continue and get back to the composite dialogue that you were engaged in, because some advances were made. There were some positive results of that kind of discussion.
But at the end of the day, we want to be encouraging both countries. We have separate relationships with both countries. Our relationship with Pakistan actually goes back further than our relationship with India, and we value both relationships. And it is very disturbing and very painful to us that what could be, if there were a way to resolve the issues – and that’s for you to decide – there could be an extraordinary opportunity for Pakistan.
Yesterday, when I was in Lahore meeting with a group of business executives, a number of them said that they would like to trade with India. There is trade, but it doesn’t go direct. It goes through Dubai or somewhere. So there’s trade going on, but it’s not benefiting the people of Pakistan. And so my answer to them is my answer to you: We would love to see a good relationship, or at least a very peaceful relationship, so that you could get about the business of investing in your people, they could get about the business of investing in theirs, and there could be an opportunity for, over time, more relationships.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I liked you when you were (inaudible). It was really impressive for people of Pakistan. But how can you bridge the gap which is already created, especially when you are giving us aid, and which you are showing that you are giving us a lot? It’s just a (inaudible), like defense authorization act 2010. You are giving military aid with so many tough conditions. Can you elaborate, because our (inaudible) are being killed on western borders. So can you (inaudible)?
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I wanted to ask you (inaudible) think about Pakistan (inaudible) the balance of power in the region. How exactly do (Inaudible) Pakistan (inaudible), which is directly (inaudible) talking about (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think Pakistan is disrupting the balance of power. I think Pakistan is trying very hard to solidify its democratic institutions while fighting a war. That, by definition, is an overwhelming challenge. My only point is, if you look at the map, Pakistan is one of the most strategically located countries in the world – India, China, Iran, Central Asia – and yet you rank 141st in human development. And why is that? Because you have been focused on other issues. And I’m not saying that it was wrong to be, but I’m just asking whether there is a way to begin to say, look, we have a different future we can make for ourselves. But again, that is up to you.
And to go to the question about conditions, I’ve explained many times that we have conditions in every aid that we give. And I think there was some misunderstanding, which we are going to try to clear up and be more sensitive to how we present the point of view of the United States Congress. But it is, I think, understandable that when the American Congress said we want to help you in your fight, and we think this immediate fight is the first fight to win, to wage and win, so we do have some accountability that we’re going to put on our own government to make sure that this aid is being translated into helping you win the priority fight. And I hope that your government and the Indian Government will resume a dialogue. I am a big believer in dialogues. I’m a big believer in negotiations. I think talking absolutely is better than warring. And so I hope that there can be some positive development there.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what you mean by (inaudible) adversity, because (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Adversity impacting the balance of power in the region, can you define this? What does this mean?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know what? I don’t know.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, I know that’s in the legislation –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — which you just referenced. I don’t know what the definition in the bill is. I don’t know what they mean by that.
MODERATOR: Okay. We really –
QUESTION: Let’s (inaudible) now.
QUESTION: It’s not my bill. I don’t know.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the audience for a while. We want to hear from –
MODERATOR: Okay. We are going to –
QUESTION: — in the audience. Quatrina Hossein (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Okay. We are going to keep the flow for a while, Madame Secretary, because everybody here wants to say something. So first, I’m going to take a comment from (inaudible), and then a question. Yes, (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible). I want to say that this is our war, because we have shared creating this monster with you. And the comment is that the war is on two levels. One is the militancy level which becomes more visible, but the second one is ideological level, which is the ideology that is engulfing us and taking us centuries back. I just want to – (applause) – this is a comment that when you take on your approach, please don’t ignore this element. There are incubators where both militancy and this ideology is being created. These are called madrassas and we definitely want to deal with them. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: And one – a couple of questions from here.
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I’m director of a women’s rights organization, (inaudible). I know that during U.S. aid support to Muslims in Bosnia, huge investments were made to train police and military in human rights programs. How would you ensure that the training programs for police and military in Pakistan would also have a strong component on women’s rights and human rights standards?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question, and I think we need to look at how we could do that more effectively, because obviously, I care very much about human rights and women’s rights, and I think that it is important to try to make sure that anyone in law enforcement anywhere in the world, and anyone in any military anywhere in the world be sensitized and receive that kind of training and then be held accountable.
So that’s something that we will obviously look into, because I think that the comment that was made earlier is a very important one, and I’ve had numerous conversations about this both before coming and as well as here with Pakistani friends of mine. Because to me, the ideology is foreign to Pakistan, and it is like a cancer that’s been introduced into the body of the country that needs to be excised. I mean, you – there can be different interpretations of culture. There can be different kinds of ways of living as long as it’s done peacefully.
But once any group decides that they have all the truth and nobody else has any of it, and therefore, they’re going to impose their beliefs on other people, that cannot be tolerated because that is so contrary to what a democracy should stand for, what diversity and pluralism should stand for. I mean, we have women from different backgrounds and different places in Pakistan with their own opinions here in this auditorium, and everybody should be free to express that without being somehow characterized as not being right or not being appropriate. So we have to look at this from many different angles.
QUESTION: Let’s take some more questions.
MODERATOR: Okay. And we have a question here from a student from the Islamic International University, which was a university that was bombed in Islamabad. And yes, what’s your question?
QUESTION: Ma’am, my name is (inaudible) and I would like to draw your attention to the issue of Kashmir and Palestine, and in accordance with the UN ruling, the American stance is that this issue should be resolved in between the two countries where America would just facilitate. But I opine that America being the superpower can exert a pressure and influence generally in resolving this long outstanding issue in the wake of UN resolutions. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want you to know that we are trying very hard to encourage both your government and the Indian Government to work on resolving this. It’s a little bit different with the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Palestinians don’t yet have their state. I am trying to create conditions for a two-state solution so that the Palestinians will finally have their state, Israel will have security, and they can live side by side. But because it’s not two countries, it’s a little bit more difficult, and we have to try to push it along.
On India and Pakistan, especially over Kashmir, we know that both of the countries have very strong feelings about this, and we can’t dictate any answers despite our position in the world. What we can do is to keep making the case that finding an answer is in the best interests of both. I mean, if you look at the amount of money that is spent on military, which you raised, that money – if there were not the threat that exists and the feeling that you had to keep up and you had to keep making more and more investment, that money could be going for so many more purposes that would help develop the people of Pakistan.
So it’s very much in Pakistan’s interest. I would argue it’s also very much in India’s interest. And I say that publicly, I say that privately. We keep pushing and we’re going to continue to.
MODERATOR: Madame Secretary, we have some – I have a question myself, and that question is that a United committee – a United Nations committee has just ruled or suggested that drone attacks may constitute a violation of international law, and it constitutes the execution of people without a trial. And the Pakistan parliament, of course, has also requested that these drone attacks be stopped, yet they continue, and the Pakistani people have begun to resent them and associate them with U.S. policy towards Pakistan as a whole. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think what’s important here is that there is a war going on, as several of you have said, and I won’t comment on that specific matter because of the fact that if you look at what has to be done in this war, the Pakistani military is using what are called S-BEC-C’s. These are very powerful planes that drop bombs. And in a war, you go after the people who are your enemies, but sometimes – and regrettably, sometimes that’s not the only people who get caught up in it.
But I think that given the nature of this war that is being fought against an enemy that is very hard to find, very hard to pin down, very hard to capture or kill, that engages in activities like the bombing of the women’s market in Peshawar, that it is understandable that as Pakistan fights this war, they want whatever help they can get, not just from us, but from others. They buy military equipment from other countries, not just the United States. But I think that winning this war is in Pakistan’s national security interests, and we’re going to do all we can to help you.
MODERATOR: And Madame Secretary, a question on the nuclear issue.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) but otherwise (inaudible) extrajudicial or indiscriminate killings against international humanitarian law.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that was one report that was written. I don’t think that that has been concluded at all, and I think that will be something that has to be looked at in the future.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) has been relentless under the Obama Administration. And do you think, and does the Obama Administration feel that the loss of life and how people feel about them in Pakistan is worth it given the minimal successes you get?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I’m not going to comment on any particular tactic or technology. But I would say that a lot of the masterminds and the leaders of the insurgency are very much in the eye of the Pakistani military, because they know that there are certain people who are orchestrating these attacks. And so there is a great effort to try to use appropriate means to go after those leaders, and I think that that is part of the success in the war that they’re waging.
MODERATOR: Can we take some more questions from the audience, Saima? Because we really haven’t even done half the auditorium yet.
MODERATOR: So let’s be fair here. Maria Sultan.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Thank you, Quatrina. Dr. Maria Sultan, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute. Thank you, Madame Secretary, for being with us this afternoon. My question relates to the nuclear program and the various certification requirements which are asked from you from the Kerry-Lugar bill. Nuclear weapons program of any country is a classified program, and so are nuclear weapons budget.
The question which I need to ask is how would you ascertain the information vis-à-vis making that certification whether Pakistan has devoted Pakistan’s financial resources towards weapons programs? Will that be done through U.S. national technical means if that certification is to be done through you? Or will it be done through the Government of Pakistan? And if it is going to be done with the aid of Government of Pakistan, was it negotiated?
And last but not least, I just wanted to ask, how do you suppose the strategic stability in the region will be maintained considering the fact that United States has bent the rules of international nonproliferation regime by giving the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that I have confidence in the security of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal. I have said that many times, I believe it, and I will continue to say it. So sometimes when you read stories that people are speculating or worrying over what might happen, I do not share those worries or concerns.
What I have talked to the Pakistani Government about is proliferation. The fact that Pakistan has a nuclear program is a fact. And it is something that has been safeguarded and secured by the Pakistani military, and that’s appropriate. But the fear that we all have and that I have expressed to the government and the military here is the possibility that nuclear material could fall into the hands of terrorists. So it’s not at all unlikely that the efforts that are being taken by the terrorists – and we know it goes on constantly – to try to figure out ways to get fissile material from the former Soviet Union, from some other source, would affect all of us.
And so my strong feeling is that it is Pakistan’s interest to work with the rest of the world to prevent proliferation. That is not in any way undermining your nuclear program. Your nuclear program exists. Now, you ask how do you verify and how do you determine if Pakistan were to join, for example, the NPT the way that the rest of us do. We’re negotiating a dramatic reduction in our nuclear arsenal with Russia. And in it, we are opening ourselves and they’re opening themselves to examination by each of us. So we would send our experts there, they would send their experts here, the International – or to U.S. The International Atomic Energy Agency, they have experts. They go and they consult with people’s nuclear programs all over the world.
And finally, the agreement that the Bush Administration entered into with India was for civil nuclear programs to produce energy, and obviously, energy is something that is going to be very much needed in Pakistan. It takes a lot of investment for a nuclear plant. It’s very expensive. And I don’t know whether that’s something that Pakistan could afford to do right now, but that has nothing to do with the nuclear weapons arsenal, which, as you know, has created a deterrent between you and Pakistan.
MODERATOR: And we have a question from –
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) She was referring to rule-bending as far as India was concerned. There was some rule-bending. That’s what you were referring to.
QUESTION: Well, how are you going to verify those positions on Pakistan’s nuclear program?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We would work with the Pakistani Government. I mean, obviously –
SECRETARY CLINTON: What?
MODERATOR: Okay. And we have some questions here from people who come from Karachi.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we don’t have access to your nuclear programs, and that’s something that is within your authority. And we would expect, under the circumstances, to get an accurate certification from the Pakistani Government.
QUESTION: Okay. Let’s (inaudible).
MODERATOR: And we have some questions from Karachi. And it’s Sassui Palijo, minister for culture from the province of Sindh.
QUESTION: Hello, Madame Secretary. I would like to welcome you here. I belong to Pakistan People’s Party, a member of assembly, minister for culture and tourism in government. I would like to welcome you here. And, you know, the way you have been meeting different people and the way, you know, we have been watching you on TV also, I think we must appreciate your efforts, because there are so many challenges, so many fears because of the war against terrorism.
When yesterday I saw you on TV, that reminded me of my great hero and beloved and, you know, (inaudible) Benazir Bhutto, because she fought against terrorism without any fear. I belong to (inaudible) has the light of Sufism. We believe in peace (inaudible) name of love, affection, peace. The question is that we are suffering from severe water shortage because we are agronomist country and we totally depend upon water. The thing is that India is trying its best to stop our water. They are trying to build dams and other mega project. The thing is that I think America can play a vital role, and now I think you will have to play your role so that India can stop all these stupid and mega projects because they are trying to stop our water.
MODERATOR: Okay, let’s get an answer to that (inaudible) on the water issue that Pakistan is suffering.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have heard about the water issue from every government official that I met with, and Foreign Minister Qureshi and I announced on Wednesday that we’re going to resume, but build up, a strategic dialogue between our two countries, and one of the items we will work on is water. And we will try to figure out what can be done to help. And obviously, if there are international issues, we will try to help address those as well, because I think that from everything I’ve heard everywhere, water is becoming an increasingly urgent concern.
I just wanted to say one quick reflection about Benazir Bhutto. Because she was prime minister the first time I came nearly 15 years ago, and her husband, President Zardari, gave me a wonderful gift, which was a picture of her and her two older children and of me with my daughter when we were here. And it was a very emotional experience for me because I admired her greatly, I considered her a friend, I saw her off and on during the years when I was in the White House, when I was in the Senate. I was extremely upset when she was murdered.
But I really think that, as you said, her martyrdom should be a reminder and a spur to action for all of us to deal with the threats that are posed to civilization and to people who are trying to stand up to terrorism. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madame Secretary, a question from a law student here.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, my name is (inaudible) from Peshawar University. First of all, I would like to admire you to have come to Pakistan in such crucial times. And second, there is a very general question I would like to ask, that what is actually terrorism in U.S. eyes? Is it the killing of innocent people in, let’s say, drone attacks? Or is it, again, the killing of – a vengeful killing of innocent people in different parts of Pakistan, like the bomb blast in Peshawar two days ago? Which one is terrorism, do you think?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I only heard your second one about the –
MODERATOR: Okay, basically the question was that victims of drone attacks, is that terrorism, or people being killed in a marketplace in Peshawar, is that terrorism? In the United States – do you perceive both victims as victims of terrorism?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I do not. I do not.
MODERATOR: We have to take a break, Quatrina, to sort tapes. There’s no tapes so we missed that question, I’m afraid.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
MODERATOR: Sorry again, everyone. A couple more minutes while we change tapes for the television.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) question, and I’d like to talk about Afghanistan and Pakistan. There’s a strategic review going on right now. You’re waiting for the results of the Afghan elections. Now, obviously, that impacts both U.S. policy, but Pakistani policy too. And my question refers to not just the fact that Pakistan and the U.S. are allies in the war against militancy, and of course, they’re concerns with Afghanistan. But are the aims and objectives, the ultimate goals, the same? I don’t think they are. And how are you going to make those two marry up with Pakistan’s objective vis-à-vis Afghanistan, and what the U.S. (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe that there is a lot of commonality in the goals. I don’t think it is in either Pakistan’s interest or the interest of the United States that Afghanistan be unstable, be a breeding ground for militancy and terrorism that can cross the border or cross the ocean. So I do think that we have a common goal. The question is what is the best way to achieve that goal. And that’s why the President, President Obama, is doing this review to try to figure out, having consulted with our partners like Pakistan and others, what is the best way to achieve that. I mean, how do we give Afghanistan the support it needs to have its own army? I mean, Pakistan has a very professional army. Afghanistan does not. So it can’t defend itself yet. And so how do we get to that point? And I think that’s in everybody’s interest.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) just the same way that the United States is (inaudible) exactly the same way Pakistani leadership, whether that’s military, whether that’s our opposition, whether that’s the government itself, we see the (inaudible) presence in Afghanistan (inaudible) and financially funding and investing in these (inaudible). . What exactly is the United States doing about this? And the United States – I know you just got all you can say (inaudible), but the fact of the matter is that you are in a position to put pressure. Just today, you came out (inaudible) because of international pressure (inaudible) Pakistan (inaudible). What can you do?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I sometimes do believe that pressure is better delivered in private, because people in public might have a reaction, whereas working behind the scenes, working consistently, very often pays off. But I think it’s also fair to say that everyone needs to be focused on the same goal, no matter who they are or where they are. It is not in anyone’s interest to support these non-state terrorist groups, because, number one, you lose control over them; number two, they often act in ways that cause ripple effects that come back to haunt you; and number three, we can’t afford to do that in the 21st century. So we’re sending that message to everybody.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) I want to ask a question and it’s a supplementary question, in fact. Yesterday, you stated that Usama bin Ladin and Pakistani leadership or Pakistanis know where they are – Pakistani officials. I just want to – there is a need of clarification. Is it (inaudible) from Pakistani Government or Pakistani agencies? What will you say?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what I said was that I don’t know if anyone knows, but we in the United States would very much like to see the end of the al-Qaida leadership. And our best information is that they are somewhere in Pakistan. And we think that it’s in Pakistan’s interest as well as our own that we try to capture or kill the leadership of al-Qaida, because we think that would be a very severe blow to terrorists everywhere. And my point is let’s work together to get that done.
Now, the priority for Pakistan has to be focusing on those who are attacking you. That has to be your priority. You have to protect your people and your territory. But from everything we have learned, al-Qaida is in league with the people who are attacking Pakistan. That might not have been the case before, but they are part of this syndicate of terror and they are in league. So when the initial campaign in Swat and then now in South Waziristan is finished, I think that the Pakistani military will have to go on to try to root out other terrorist groups, or we’re going to be back facing the same threats.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think there’s a trust deficit going both directions, and I think that’s why we have to talk very openly, which is what I’m trying to do.
QUESTION: Is it military or government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know.
MODERATOR: I’m sorry, we have to move on, Sana Bucha from GEO.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) security are directly linked to Afghanistan’s security and stability. That has been said time and time again. But are we looking for clues everywhere? Does (inaudible) do they not have any nefarious designs of their own carrying out in Afghanistan, and the losses that the United States suffers at the hands (inaudible). And does Iran have a role? Does Russia have a role? I know for a fact that al-Qaida recruits that are coming from the Turkmenistan-Tajikistan border who are Arabs and they are being funded by Russia. And there is no diplomatic presence in Russia by the United States or in Iran itself. You’ve already said Iran is the “axis of evil”. So do you think you need to do something more on diplomatic terms with Iran and Russia, too, to stop exactly what’s exacerbating in Afghanistan itself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we do have diplomatic – full diplomatic relationships with Russia. I was just in Russia for consultations, and the Russians are helping in Afghanistan. They’re providing support. They’re providing transit. They’re providing the kind of both material and moral support, because they understand the threat that they would face. So Russia I would put in a different category.
With Iran, we are trying to engage Iran. We are working very hard to do that. And it’s difficult to know what the outcome will be. But as President Obama said when he was inaugurated, we will reach out our hand to anyone who unclenches their fist. And we are attempting to do that. I can’t today tell you whether we will have any success or not. But I think what you saw happen with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard last week, where apparently a group came across the border from Baluchistan, means that Iran has a stake in this, too. I really think the world has a stake, and I’m trying to get everybody to work together. And whatever differences we have – and there will always be differences between India and Pakistan, between us and Iran, we all – that’s human nature. But on this big threat of non-state terrorist networks, every country should work together. And that’s what I hope we will see.
MODERATOR: Okay, let’s move on for one final question from the audience. The final question is going to be from Sonia because I’m right here.
QUESTION: My name is Sonia (inaudible) and I’m the founding president of an NGO think tank. When Saimi Mohsin opened the conversation up, she talked about turning a new page. And in your efforts and in your schedule and your deliberations, Secretary of State, that’s clearly evident. We must commend you for that, and we welcome you to our country.
But there is also talk of trust deficit. And indeed, when the former ambassador (inaudible) talked about – said in her opening comment, she talked about a trust deficit, and that’s coming again and again from across the floor.
In my opinion, if the United States takes two tangible and very concrete steps, it can make a very significant stride towards overcoming that trust deficit. The first is in the area of external resource transfers. Although the external resource transfers – although we appreciate that the Kerry-Lugar bill will make monies available to us, but the potential within wiping out external indebtedness is very huge, and I want to know to what extent you are committed to working towards that.
My second question and the area where I think you can really bring value to the country is in the area of democracy, because you clearly are committed towards democracy, but I’m sure nobody would know better than yourself that democracy is not about popular vote. It is a set of constitutional devices. It’s a set of institutional norms. It is a form of governance and transparency and accountability in institution. I’m just doing that, Quatrina. But I just want to make a point that democracy is about an attitude in government. It is a set of institutions, devices. And most importantly, it’s about a set of values enshrined in freedom, liberty, equality, and rights.
To what extent can you consolidate a reform agenda within the country which would make sure that reform outlives administrations and is not held hostage to individual vested interests within our very complicated country? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, on your first question, we supported very strongly the effort to try to stabilize the Pakistani economy. We have sent a team of financial experts twice now to work with your government so that any way we can help on debt relief, on refinancing, on other aspects of stabilizing the economic and fiscal situation, is something we’re committed to helping you do.
But let me just end on your last question, because I think it’s a very important one. You are absolutely right; democracy is not just about elections. In fact, there are people around the world who get themselves elected once and then they end elections. So you’ve got to have an independent judiciary. You’ve got to have a free press, which Pakistan has. You’ve got to have protection for minority rights. You have to have all of these institutions working together. But the most important is what Alexis d’Toqueville said back at the very beginning of our country when he came to the United States. He said you have to have the habits of the heart – the habits of the heart that respect other people, that tolerate other viewpoints, because in a democracy there has to be compromise. By definition, you can’t have an absolutist approach. That’s what you’re supposed to do in the parliament. That’s what the government is supposed to protect.
So I think inculcating those habits of the heart in the family, in school, in the community, is absolutely essential to the long-term health and stability of the democracy of Pakistan. And we will support the rule of law, we will support the institutions, and we will support efforts to try to plant all those habits of the heart in as many hearts as we can possibly reach.
MODERATOR: Madame Secretary, we’ve (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible) I would like to know how damage control you think you’ve been able to do on this trip.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know. I hope some. I mean, I love coming to Pakistan and I have such a great deal of affection and friendship towards the country and the people. I’m going to try as hard as I can. But ultimately, we have to have actions between the two of us. Words are not enough. We have to build that confidence and build that trust, and we have to listen to each other, and I hope I at least have started that during the last three days. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madame Secretary, thank you so much indeed for giving us this time (inaudible) and the opportunity for the audience and us to speak to you. I thank my colleagues, Asma Shirazi, Sana Bucha, Meher Bukhari, and of course, Quatina Hossein. I’m Saima Mohsin. Thanks very much indeed for being with us. (Applause.)