Posts Tagged ‘Robert Gibbs’

If it’s Sunday, it must be time to speculate about Hillary Clinton.  I can think of less interesting topics, even if this is getting old.  At least it keeps her in the news,  and we get to see her even when she is not doing a lot in the light of the sun.

Why is she “out there” so early? Not to mention Robert Gibbs saying she has to “distinguish herself” from Bill Clinton and “the current president.”

Just a few notes:  She is not “out there.”  She is doing exactly the work she had been telling us she would do post-secretary of state for the past several years every time anyone asked her what her plans were.

Chuck Todd, could you try to be a little more supercilious, pompous, didactic, and obnoxious?  Could you try?  You  appear to despise Hillary simply for existing.   She is doing what comes naturally to her, what she said she would do, and she is doing good things unrelated to this administration or any campaign.  Get a grip!

As far as Robert Gibbs is concerned, my unsolicited advice to him is to spend the next few years catching up on reading her resumé since her accomplishments are many and hardly a carbon copy of either of the guys who love and admire her, as Gibbs ought to know!


Just keep smiling and doing what you’re doing, Hillary!  You are doing just fine!  Don’t pay them any mind.  We’ve got your back,  and we are collecting your talking points.  We know where you stand, and we continue to stand beside you as we have all along.

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WASHINGTON - MAY 19: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives to speak in the Brady Press Briefing Room about humanitarian aid plan to Pakistan at the White House May 19, 2009 in Washington, DC. Clinton announced 110 million dollars for emergency humanitarian aid in Pakistan, which is intended to help in the fight against the Taliban militants.

WASHINGTON - MAY 19: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives to speak in the Brady Press Briefing Room about humanitarian aid plan to Pakistan at the White House May 19, 2009 in Washington, DC. Clinton announced 110 million dollars for emergency humanitarian aid in Pakistan, which is intended to help in the fight against the Taliban militants.

For someone entering a den of wolves, she looks pretty happy and confident to me!

May 19, 2009

When President Obama wants Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to drive home a point, he offers her up to the wolves in the White House briefing room.

“It ups the volume,” an administration aide said of Clinton addressing the White House press corps instead of her own gaggle of reporters over at Foggy Bottom.

For the second time in recent weeks, Clinton made an appearance Tuesday in the briefing room, to the delight of reporters itching to get a crack at one of the few real rock stars of the Obama administration. This time Clinton showed up to announce aid for Pakistanis displaced by the fighting between government forces and the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

“Today I am announcing that the people of the United States are responding to a request for assistance from the government of Pakistan with more than $100 million in humanitarian support. Now, this money comes on top of almost $60 million that the United States has provided since last August to help Pakistanis who have been affected by the conflicts, and in addition to the other funding for Pakistan that we are already seeking from the Congress,” Clinton said.

She also got chatty with her new pal Helen Thomas, dean of the White House press corps. The two were not that close during the Clinton administration, but they shared the stage at this year’s commencement at New York University and are apparently getting friendly (which makes sense for two women who have shattered their share of glass ceilings).

“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, where we were both given honorary degrees, and in Yankee Stadium, which was a pretty exciting experience,” Clinton said.

Thomas quietly responded with a simple, “Thank you.”

– Ken Bazinet

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/2009/05/white-house-hands-clinton-podi.html#ixzz0G3OP01CZ&B

Well, it seems to me that if they are itching to hear from a rock star (and I think she is the ONLY rock star in this administration) they are hardly wolves ready to sink their teeth into her. It’s more accurate, in my view, to say they are eager to hear from a coherent, articulate, honest, spokesperson unlike the incoherent and contentious Mr. Gibbs who does seem to regard the press corps as a pack of wolves. Now having said that, I should add that if there is a person in that room who has reason to see the press within the context of that analogy, it is Hillary who was essentially gang-raped by most of the folks in that room last year. In meeting them eye to eye (she is so good at that) in her own direct way, she has tamed the wolf pack – or better, shown them that she really is the Alpha Female of the United States. Go Hillary! Go AFOTUS!

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OMG! I am seriously LOL. After Robert Gibbs performed disciplinary actions last week in the Press Room, he followed it up THIS week by making several statements regarding the possibility of a woman appointee to replace Justice Souter.  He told us we should not lobby for a woman, then that Justice Ginsburg should shut up and sit down. Pi$$ed, I suggested we trap him in the press room and start calling each other on our cell phones. LITTLE DID I KNOW! I was at work and could not watch this video till I got home, but I discovered in the late afternoon that Hillary made a return engagement today to the Press Room.I had seen Tweets all day saying she told us we could text contributions to programs assisting the Swat Valley refugees, but I had no idea, even after seeing a still pic of her with a cell phone, that she pulled out this verboten item in the White House Press Room and then GIGGLED.It was so seriously cute and defiant, how could you NOT text a contribution. I will, just to make Hillary happy.
*Waiting for the day when it will again be a contribution to HillaryClinton.com. for her 2012 race.*

If, like me, you are incensed by the remarks of the smug and sexist Mr. Gibbs, perhaps you would like to participate in the PUMAPAC Prowl. Read about it here.

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Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan

Press Conference

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC
May 19, 2009

Released by White House Office of the Press Secretary

11:25 A.M. EDT

MR. GIBBS: A renewed guest appearance. Thank you all for coming. As we talked last week here, you all know the national security priority that Pakistan is for this administration. President Obama asked all those in the administration to respond quickly to the conditions that we’re seeing now in the Swat Valley and in Pakistan. And I will turn it over to the Secretary of State for an announcement on that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Robert. And I appreciate the opportunity to provide some information about what our government and the people of the U.S. are doing with respect to the humanitarian crisis that is affecting Pakistan.

The last time I was in this room, on May 6th, I spoke about the United States’ commitment to stand by Pakistan’s people and the democratically elected government as they work to restore security in their country. And President Obama is determined to match our words with our actions, because Pakistan’s government is leading the fight against extremists that threaten the future of their country and our collective security.

At the same time, though, Pakistan is facing a major humanitarian crisis. Approximately 2 million people have fled their homes, and Pakistan’s government, their military, and relief organizations are working to meet the needs of these displaced persons. So many are finding refuge with family members, or in schools or mosques; they are relying on the generosity of relatives and friends. And I’m confident that Pakistan’s institutions and citizens will succeed in confronting this humanitarian challenge if the international community steps up and provides the support that is needed.

So today I am announcing that the people of the United States are responding to a request for assistance from the government of Pakistan with more than $100 million in humanitarian support. Now, this money comes on top of almost $60 million that the United States has provided since last August to help Pakistanis who have been affected by the conflicts, and in addition to the other funding for Pakistan that we are already seeking from the Congress.

Providing this assistance is not only the right thing to do, but we believe it is essential to global security and the security of the United States, and we are prepared to do more as the situation demands.

The United States has a history of working with the Pakistani authorities to alleviate suffering. When an earthquake struck the country in 2005, we moved quickly to assist. Altogether, the United States has provided more than $3.4 billion since 2002 to alleviate suffering and promote economic growth, education, health and good governance in Pakistan.

A U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team — a so-called DART team — and embassy personnel from our embassy in Islamabad are on the ground working with and supporting Pakistani authorities in evaluating needs for shelter, food, health, water and sanitation services. And supplies from the U.S. are already flowing to Pakistan. USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has delivered 30,000 family relief kits, 5,000 tents, FM radios, and generators to provide both light and water.

At the request of the government of Pakistan’s special support group, the U.S. military is providing water trucks, halal MREs, and large tents within environment units for hot weather.

At the same time, one of our guiding principles of this assistance package is that it should be more than just the delivery of supplies. It should also be an investment in the people and the economy of Pakistan. So a significant portion of our pledged food aid will go to buy Pakistani grain in local markets, taking advantage of the country’s bumper crop of wheat. And we will work to create quick-impact job programs that will put Pakistanis to work, making supplies that will help their countrymen who have been forced to flee the fighting. Our approach to the aid reflects our conviction that all Pakistanis have a stake in resolving this crisis.

In addition to supporting the work of Pakistan’s democratically elected government, we are coordinating closely with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. And we appreciate the work that U.N. agencies, the ICRC, and nongovernmental organizations are already doing.

The United States is also deploying new tools to meet these challenges. We are working to support the Pakistani government in launching a text-messaging system that will alert local communities to assistance efforts and will help family members keep in touch.

We have been hard at work in this area for a number of weeks, looking for ways that we can get communications directly to people on the ground. And we know that a lot of the Pakistanis who are being displaced by the conflict have cell phones. So we’re going to try to reach directly to them, not only to give them information that will be of assistance to them, but also to provide a way of connecting them up with other people, with the military, with the governing authorities.

Now, Americans can use technology to help, as well. Using your cell phones, Americans can text the word “swat” — to the number 20222 and make a $5 contribution that will help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people. And before I came over here, we did that in the State Department. So we are making some of the first donations to this fund.

President Obama and I hope that individuals who have fled the conflict will be able to return home quickly, safely, and on a voluntary basis. Some have already gone back to their communities. And as they do, the United States stands ready to help Pakistan’s government support displaced persons as they rebuild their lives.

But as long as this crisis persists, our assistance will continue. We face a common threat, a common challenge, and now a common task. And we know that the work ahead is difficult, but we have seen an enormous amount of support and determination out of the Pakistani government, military, and people in the last weeks to tackle the extremist challenge. And we’re confident that with respect to the humanitarian challenge the people of Pakistan and their government, as well as the international community, can come together and forge not only the assistance that is needed, but stronger bonds for the years ahead.

So I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, how much of this money goes directly to U.S.-run programs that are there where it’s sort of the U.S. is in charge of how the money gets disseminated, and how much of it goes to the Pakistani government? And then can you also talk about President Clinton’s role with Haiti?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to the money, the money is going primarily to international assistance efforts that the United States is deeply involved in supporting and helping to coordinate. The top United Nations disaster experts are either on the ground or shortly will be on the ground. We also have a very good working relationship with the Pakistani military coming out of our earthquake experience with them. And we believe that the person who’s been put in charge, who was in charge of the earthquake relief, is especially well suited for that.

So we’re going to be providing a lot of in-kind contributions and we’re going to be providing financial support to multilateral organizations and NGOs. And as I said, we’re going to try to be creative in buying locally produced goods and labor, so that the people of Pakistan have a stake in solving this humanitarian crisis. So it’s a multitude of approaches, Chuck, and we think that’s the smartest way to go.

QUESTION: But not much of it actually goes directly to the government?


QUESTION: It’s just mostly — okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes, that’s right.

Well, with respect to Haiti, we’re very pleased that the United Nations is taking such an affirmative role in trying to assist the people of Haiti. They have not yet recovered from the four hurricanes of last year. This is a high priority not only for the U.N., but also for the Obama administration. And we think that Ban Ki-moon has chosen a high-profile envoy to raise the visibility of the needs of the people of Haiti. And it’s the kind of partnership that we’re looking for across the board.

We had already begun putting a team together, led by my Chief of Staff and Counselor, Cheryl Mills, to harness the support of the United States government to assist Haiti. And this is going to be an added bit of leverage and focus for us that we can all work on together.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. How much money do you expect to raise through these $5 increments from text messages? And can you really improve the situation in the Swat Valley at $5 increments? And secondly, what does the United States expect in return for this $100 million?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we can do a lot to improve the conditions of the displaced people coming out of the conflict areas. I’m hoping that we’ll have a big response to the text messaging. Just think if a million people in the United States gave at least $5, that’s $5 million. And that would be a significant contribution from ordinary citizens, just people who care about what’s happening.

We’re enlisting the Pakistani American communities. One of the results of our trilateral meetings has been a commitment to help assist Pakistani Americans to establish a 501(c)3 that will solicit contributions from the Diaspora, and then be able to provide that money for this kind of assistance.

So I think it’s important on the financial front, but equally important is enlisting people-to-people diplomacy and assistance, which is something that we believe very strongly in. We don’t want this just to be government to government. We want Americans weighing in to try to help, and we think this does that.

What we’re looking for is what we’re seeing, the kind of commitment from the Pakistani government and the military to go after the extremists who threaten the safety and security of Pakistanis and of the nation. And I’ve been encouraged by the very strong positions that have been taken across the political spectrum in support of the military actions. And that’s why it’s important that we step up now and help on the humanitarian front.

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.

QUESTION: So what is the U.S. role, actually? Is it just transferring money, or is there also going to be a physical presence on the ground, and in particular, any boots on the ground in Pakistan to deliver this aid?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Chip, we’re doing what the Pakistan has requested of us. Obviously our military will be delivering a lot of these supplies, but they’ll be handing them off to the Pakistani military and to the relief groups, both international and non-governmental organizations. And we think that’s the appropriate way to proceed.

We were very pleased that the government appointed General Nadeem Ahmad to head up these efforts, because he directed civilian relief efforts after the earthquake of 2005. He was extremely capable and produced positive results, and where necessary asked for help not only from the United States but from other international groups. And that’s what we’re expecting will happen this time.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea what the numbers of military would be involved in this? And is there any danger that they could get caught in the crossfire here?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. We are not engaged in any military action whatsoever, and we are not engaged in the delivery of any civilian relief. We are there to facilitate the Pakistani military and the international and NGO relief agencies to be able to do that.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, are you worried the Pakistanis might abandon the fight against the Taliban without this aid? And is the lack of this kind of aid, in your opinion, the reason that former President Musharraf did not prosecute the war against the Taliban as efficiently as the current government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, Wendell, I can’t speculate on why former President Musharraf did what he did while he was in power. I just know that at the end of his time in office, the extremists had found safe havens in Pakistan and were stronger than they had been when he came into office, in terms of their willingness to make alliance with al Qaeda as part of what we view as a terrorist network — a syndicate, if you will.

But what I do believe is that the current democratically elected government and the opposition has recognized the serious threat posed by the Taliban’s advance out of their usual territory, moving closer and closer to Islamabad. And I am very encouraged by the comments that the Prime Minister has made, that opposition leaders like former Prime Minister Sharif has made. There is a real national mood change on the part of the Pakistani people that we are watching and obviously encouraged by. And I think it has to do with a recognition that this is no longer about a part of their country that seems quite distant from population centers, like Lahore or Islamabad or Karachi. That this is a potential direct threat to their way of life in Pakistan.

The beating of the young woman that was videotaped had an electric effect on people throughout Pakistan. I’ve talked to a number of Pakistanis and Pakistani Americans who said, “We were shocked by that.” You know, sometimes it just takes a visual image or an act to break through your everyday concerns about the economy and politics as usual, and I think that’s happened in Pakistan.

The humanitarian relief is the right thing to do, no matter what the politics. People are in need, they’re having to leave their homes and their possessions. We hope that they’ll be able to return home quickly if the military not only clears the Taliban from their communities but also holds that ground with a combination of military and policing forces.

But this is a tough battle and I don’t think anybody should underestimate how difficult it is for the Pakistani military to wage this battle in very challenging terrain. I don’t know how many of you have either flown over or visited that terrain, but this is hard. And that’s why what the Pakistanis are doing now deserves our full support. They’re doing it. And we’re encouraging them to do it because we think it’s in their interests, but we also believe it’s in the interests of our long-term struggle against extremism and, in particular, the al Qaeda network.

MR. GIBBS: Thanks, guys.



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Remarks on Trilateral Consultations With Afghanistan and Pakistan


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Remarks at White House Briefing
Washington, DC
May 6, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Robert. You know, I successfully avoided this room for eight years. (Laughter.) But I’m very pleased to be here to discuss the series of meetings that we had this morning as part of our second trilateral with delegations from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and this time led by their respective Presidents.

I think the takeaway is that this process is producing some very promising early signs. The level of cooperation between the governments of the two countries is increasing. The confidence-building that is necessary for this relationship to turn into tangible cooperation is moving forward. And I think today’s series of meetings is another step along that road.
As you know, earlier we met in a bilateral with both President Zardari and President Karzai, and then we had the large delegations meeting. So let me just quickly run through some of what occurred and then I’d be glad to take your questions.
I met early this morning at the Willard Hotel with President Zardari and had a chance to see for the first time in 10 years his son, Bilawal Zardari — actually, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. I had not seen him since he was a young boy. And so it was really a personal call that I wanted to make on both of them.
At the formal bilateral that I held with President Zardari at the State Department, I reaffirmed our government’s strong support for him as the democratically elected President. Being able to say “democratically elected President of Pakistan” is not a common phrase, and I think it’s imperative that we support President Zardari and work with him as he extends the reach of the government not only on security, as essential as that is, but also on the range of needs of the Pakistani people.
With President Karzai, it was a very future-oriented conversation. We talked about the necessity to take real, concrete actions to make the kind of progress that Afghanistan desperately needs to see to really deliver for the people of the country.
In both meetings, I thought each President was very forthcoming. We discussed a range of issues that are important going forward, but we kept the focus on what we’re actually going to do. I told each that coming out of this trilateral meeting, we will basically have work plans. We’re going to be very specific. We don’t want any misunderstanding; we don’t want any mixed signals; we want to know what we have agreed to, what they have agreed to, how we’re going to proceed toward meeting those goals and objectives and timetables that will be utilized to keep all of us focused on the job ahead.
At the trilateral meeting, we had very distinguished delegations from both countries; in addition, Secretary Vilsack, Director Panetta, Director Mueller, Deputy Secretary Jack Lew, Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador Anne Patterson, Under Secretary Flournoy, Acting Administrator of USAID Fulgham, and General Petraeus.
The format of the meetings were to hear from our Obama administration officials what the specifics of what the next day’s meetings, tomorrow, will focus on in each instance. So, for example, Secretary Vilsack kicked it off because, as you know from our strategic review, we think it’s imperative to focus on the agricultural sector. We certainly intend to provide assistance with issues ranging from water rights to anti-erosion measures, to specific seeds that can grow alternative crops in Afghanistan, to continue to help the agricultural sector in Pakistan, as well.
I thought it was a very significant meeting, in some ways a breakthrough meeting. The high-level participation from our government was very important, and the high-level participation from each of the delegations. A number of the comparable ministers had never met each other. They may have talked on the phone about border security or police training or intelligence sharing, but they hadn’t actually met in several instances.
I was extremely impressed by the candor that was really evidenced throughout the meeting. And it was a physical manifestation of our strategy, of viewing Afghanistan and Pakistan as a regional challenge but also a regional opportunity.

The Trade Transit Agreement memorandum of understanding that was signed today commits both countries to finalizing a trade transit agreement that deals with all of the obstacles and problems of goods and people crossing borders. It was started 43 years ago, and we’re determined to bring it to a resolution. The kind of economic development that will spring up if we see increased trade and commerce between the two countries is one of the best ways that we can provide alternatives for those who might otherwise be dragged into this conflict.
We will continue these meetings at the ministerial level. When, tomorrow, the people of both delegations meet with their counterparts in our government, they will be setting up very specific follow-on planning.
I’m very optimistic that this process is making a difference. I’m realistic enough to know that two meetings does not necessarily turn around the many difficult and complex challenges that confront these two countries and us and our relationship to them. One of the comments that was made struck me, that geography binds us, but we were not connected before. They basically stood on both sides of a border that neither agrees to because it was imposed on them; it was not ever reached by the governments of either country. And yet they have so much both in common and they face this common threat, and they have to make common cause to reach a common objective.
Both Presidents spoke very movingly about the threat and dangers of terrorism. I think that they are committed to this conflict being resolved and their being able to produce more peace and security.
An ancient Afghan proverb says, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” I think that patience is not always in great supply inside our own government, or even inside our own country. But I think in this instance, the kind of patient strategy that the President has adopted and the steps that we are all taking to implement this strategy is the only way forward. It may not give you a story every day, but hopefully it will give us all a better story next year and the years to come.
So I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to make these short comments, and I’d be glad to answer your questions.
MR. GIBBS: Jennifer.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. You talked about this being a breakthrough and about the focus being on what you can do, what you will do — specific things. Can you list any specific things that either leader agreed to go back to their country and do to make the kinds of changes that are so desperately needed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: There were such commitments, but I think we would rather talk about those after conferring with each of the Presidents and probably at the end of this two-day process, because there have been commitments made, there will be much more in-depth work done tomorrow to see how we’re going to realize the way forward on those commitments. And I think it would be more appropriate to wait to talk specifically.
QUESTION: — that on behalf of this country, and perhaps —

QUESTION: — what the administration is committing to that we haven’t already seen in these plans?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, some of it is very specific. If you look at agriculture, we’re going to establish a training program, the Borlaug Fellows Training Program. You remember, Norm Borlaug was one of the architects of the Green Revolution, which transformed life in India and in other places. And we’re going to do intensive training with Pakistani and Afghani agricultural experts and researchers and policymakers. We’re going to establish a trilateral body to identify the cross-border water issues, one of the critical issues as to whether agriculture can be revitalized, particularly in Afghanistan.
With respect to economic commitments, both Afghanistan and Pakistan confirmed their commitment to the Central Asia/South Asia energy agreement. We’re going to press ahead to try to help alleviate some of the blockades that exist for both countries getting reliable sources of energy, particularly electricity.
The Trade Transit Agreement is a commitment to a time line to adopt customs harmonization strategy, pass legislation and create the institutions necessary to prevent illegal transshipments, finalize the reconstruction opportunity zones that are part of the Kerry-Lugar legislation.
We are also looking to deepen our work on the cross-border issues, joint parliamentary exchanges and military training, border coordination centers. We want broader based law enforcement reform, a vigorous anti-corruption agenda that removes the impunity that too often has existed in the past. And they committed to vigorous judicial reform and counterterrorism legislation and improving prison conditions. Those are just some of the things that are part of our dialogue going forward that they’ve already committed to working with us on.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, senior administration officials in recent weeks have swung between fairly sharp criticism and praise of the Afghan and Pakistani governments. You, yourself, said that the Pakistani government was at risk of abdicating to the Taliban. First, do you still believe that is the case? And do you see a risk of sending a mixed message to these partners at a time when both their cooperation are needed in combating the resurgent Taliban?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m actually quite impressed by the actions that the Pakistani government is now taking. I think that action was called for and action has been forthcoming.
This is a long, difficult struggle. And the leadership of Pakistan, both civilian and military, really had to work on significant paradigm shifts in order to be able to see this threat as those of us on the outside perceived it. And I think that has occurred, and I think that there is a resolve going forward. There are still some challenges in terms of assets and resources and approach toward dealing with not a standing army across a border, but the kind of insurgency and guerrilla warfare that is being waged against the legitimate authority of the Pakistani state.
I think that our resolve and our commitment to the democratically elected government is very, very firm. But we are also working to create an atmosphere and a reality of candor and openness between us. I think that is way overdue. A lot of lip service was paid in the past that did not translate into better lives, more safety, more security, economic development for the people of Pakistan.
So I think that we are very supportive. We are engaged in this process. We are committed to the strategy the President outlined, but we’re also going to have a very open and honest relationship.
QUESTION: The administration has recognized that part of — a big part of the problem for Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban is that it remains militarily focused on its traditional enemy, India. What, if anything — or why hasn’t the administration taken greater action to help to normalize, improve relations between India and Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, everything in due time.
MR. GIBBS: Jake.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, as this plan was being developed, the U.S. believed that a lot of the insurgency issues were going to be in eastern Afghanistan. Obviously the problem has now emerged more heatedly in Pakistan. How has that affected this strategy of the U.S. as this summit came together?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, I think that the wisdom of the approach that we took even before the President was inaugurated has been borne out by the events of the last months. We were determined to see Afghanistan and Pakistan as a region, as two countries that were dependent upon each other, influenced each other, and needed to figure out a way forward together. So, if anything, the fast-moving conflict and, frankly, the adaptability of the enemy that we are all fighting has demonstrated clearly the wisdom of that approach.

One of the other comments that was made today is that Afghanistan and Pakistan are conjoined twins — and, in effect, they are. But they were never treated that way. They were kind of one-off: What are we going to do about Afghanistan, and, oh, by the way, what are we going to do about Pakistan? And we have a history there, as you know. We have a history of having been deeply involved and then having withdrawn. And so I think seeing the two countries as connected geographically as they are, and in this common struggle against al Qaeda and the Taliban and their allies, has given us the flexibility to be able to move more agilely than we did before.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, President Zardari said the following yesterday. He said — on the U.S. relationship — “I think it needs more effort; I think it needs more understanding on both sides.” What is your understanding of his greatest concerns, from his point of view, that you picked up on in these meetings today — on the U.S. relationship?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, Chuck, I think that’s a very fair statement. I think that it does require more understanding on both sides. One size does not fit all. You don’t take a strategy from one part of the world and impose it on another part. You don’t look at each country just through the prism of the terrorist threat and expect to really understand what’s the best way to combat that, and also to begin removing conditions that gave rise to it.

And I think that in my conversations with President Zardari — whom I’ve known a very long time and was a great admirer and friend of his wife — if you talk with him, as I have, about what he faced coming into office — he’s been President for less than eight months, and he inherited a very difficult and unmanageable situation. We have a pretty well functioning government. We’ve changed directions policy-wise, but you don’t have to start from scratch — and so I think a little more understanding on our part about what he confronted.
You know, he has successfully navigated some real crises. He made a very brave decision when he first came in to raise the price of wheat. Might not sound like a big deal, but it was a huge political challenge. But by doing so, Pakistan is now self-sufficient in wheat again. You know, you have to look at what he was facing: an economic crisis, a military-terrorist crisis, a legitimacy crisis — just an enormous array of challenges. And I think if you’re more understanding of both the history and the conditions, you not only can perhaps empathize a little bit, but be smarter in the suggestions you make, understanding what the consequences will be. And that’s what we are trying to do through this process.
QUESTION: What are his asks? What are his asks specifically of us?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you know. They’re very public: more economic aid; more assistance with the military and police in terms of what they need to now go after this new enemy; what I just sort of read off in response to an earlier question about the sort of assistance we’re going to offer, from agriculture to the economy to intelligence. That’s what they’re looking for.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a couple of questions. One, the Zardari government said it wanted time to have this negotiated arrangement in Swat Valley to see what would happen. They’ve now seen what has happened and are responding militarily. There are some reports in the region that the civilians on the ground now see the government in a different light, and saw that they tried to negotiate, saw what the Taliban did, and there’s a backlash against the Taliban. Do you believe that was an inherent wisdom that maybe the U.S. did not detect before in the strategy?

And number two, with the sense that the refugee crisis in that area — now that the Pakistan government has asked civilians to try to leave — is that going to be something the U.S. and both these nations are going to have to confront in the very near term?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry, say that again.
QUESTION: Well, the military’s advice being to try to exit parts of the Swat Valley because of a assumed military offensive — will that create a humanitarian issue that all three of these countries are going to have to deal with in a very near term?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, Major, I’m not going to second-guess the approach that was taken by the government of Pakistan vis-à-vis the Taliban in Swat Valley. Whatever the motive behind it might have been, the reality on the ground soon proved otherwise; that one had to confront the increasing influence and geographic spread of the Taliban. There aren’t that many Taliban fighters, but they are so intimidating and they are so ruthless that a very few can control a large swath of territory, which is something that I think everybody learned in watching this unfold.
So the other point to remember — it goes back to Chuck’s earlier question — is there have been areas of Pakistan that have been ungoverned for a very long time. The British Empire did not govern them; no Pakistani government, civilian or military, attempted to govern them; and they were basically left alone, and they left the central government alone — it was kind of a unspoken agreement.
But what nobody bargained for was foreign fighters and foreign money and a foreign ideology that would in some way link up disparate elements within these regions into a network, a syndicate, if you will, of extremist groups. And I think that has changed — that’s another one of the paradigm shifts. You know, you could leave those folks alone and they took care of their own business, but that was fine, we were okay in Lahore and Islamabad and Karachi and other places. But as they became more aggressive, and as they kind of broke out of the traditional model of how they had stayed close to home and basically controlled their own surroundings, that produced a new challenge.
And I think that it’s part of the change in attitude that we’re seeing in the Pakistani military and intelligence services, and in the civilian government.
QUESTION: And the issue —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re obviously concerned about that. We’re going to watch it and see what we can do to help.

MR. GIBBS: She’s got a couple of important meetings she’s got to get to, so we’re going to let her go.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Robert.

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