WASHINGTON: Pakistan is beginning to recognize the severity of the threat posed by an extremist insurgency that is encroaching on major urban areas, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday. Clinton told a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee that the Obama administration is working to convince the Pakistani government that its traditional focus on India as a threat has to shift to the Islamic extremists.
“Changing paradigms and mindsets is not easy, but I do believe there is an increasing awareness of not just the Pakistani government but the Pakistani people that this insurgency coming closer and closer to major cities does pose such a threat.”
On Wednesday, Clinton told another House committee that in her view the Pakistani government is “basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists.” She said Thursday that the administration’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, has had “painful, specific” conversations with a wide range of Pakistanis about the need to act more effectively against the insurgents.
“There is a significant opportunity here for us working in collaboration with the Pakistani government to help them get the support they need to make that mindset change and act more vigorously against this threat.There are no promises. They have to do it,”
One measure of progress in Pakistan, she said, is the extent to which the Pakistani military is shifting its troops from the Indian border to the Afghan border, where the Taliban threat has been expanding.
Clinton was appearing before the appropriations panel that is reviewing the administration’s request for $7.1 billion in additional money for the State Department this budget year. Clinton said that local job creation is a key purpose of the $980million in extra funds the State Department is requesting for its work in Afghanistan.
She told the panel that a main goal is to improve security at the local level in Afghanistan by putting more people to work. And she said the Obama administration believes that many in the Taliban insurgency who are fighting against American and Afghan forces are motivated more by money than by ideology.
According to US media, some committee members voiced doubt about succeeding in Pakistan. Democrat David Obey of Wisconsin told Clinton he has “absolutely no confidence” in Pakistan’s government. And he said he’s worried that the administration’s domestic and foreign agenda could be “devoured” by the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
input from Agency