ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday made it clear that Pakistan had no choice but to be decisive in war against terrorism. “There can be no peace, no stability, no democracy and prosperity for Pakistan, unless the violent extremists are removed,” Clinton said addressing a press conference at the end of shorter than a day-long trip to Pakistan. “Either they come back to their (militants’) senses and understand that they could be part of a political process or captured or killed,” she added.
“Pakistan and US have captured and killed a number of extremist leaders but still there are safe havens for Al-Qaeda here from where they plan attacks on innocent people across the world including Pakistanis,” she said
“Deliberate misunderstandings, the conspiracy theories, and accusations have nothing to do with our common target of a constructive future,” she said. “People of Pakistan must understand that anti-Americanism or conspiracy theories would not make the problem disappear,” she made it clear.
Describing relations with Pakistan as extremely important for US national security, she underlined to need to deepen the cooperation at every level from intelligence to military actions against militants.
Flanked by Admiral Mike Mullen Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Clinton told a presser after having meetings at Presidency with Pakistani civilian as well as military leadership that “America cannot and should not solve Pakistan’s problems. It is Pakistan’s civilian elected government and the people of Pakistan have decided what kind of Pakistan they want,” she added probably referring to the lack of unison in Pakistani society against the religious militancy.
However granting clean chit to at least the top leadership, both civilian and military, she said, “there was no evidence that Pakistani Government leaders knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding.”
Asked a question about those who supposedly knew though at the lower level, she said, they would have gone themselves against him if they knew about his hiding in Abbottabad. “They were emotional at certain point of time. For instance, the President (Zardari) said there was sufficient evidence of Al-Qaeda being involved in killing of his wife (former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto). So how could he spare such a high value target while having personal concerns, as well,” she said.
To another question about the issue of visas for US military officials and reported desire of Pakistani authorities to reduce the American troops’ presence here, she said she did not see anything officially in this regard.
Mullen however confirmed that they recently received a request to reduce the number of military trainers. “We are in a process of examining that and would see the areas where the US military presence needs to be reduced,” he added. “I do not want to misreport on trust, which was recently shaken and in today’s meeting I shared this commitment with Pakistani military leadership to rebuild it at the earliest,” Mullen added to the answer by the Secretary of State.
Earlier she said that the Pakistani leadership had assured her to take some very specific steps and then “we would take some joint actions,” in the fight against terrorism.
Describing the relations at turning point, Clinton said, both Pakistan and the United States had more work to be done in fight against militancy.
According to the Secretary of State, any peace deal in Afghanistan will not succeed unless Pakistan is part of the process. “No nation has paid a higher price to terrorism than Pakistan, she said but rushed to add, “We both recognize there is still much more work required and it’s urgent.”
Clinton denied that the meetings, held under blanket security, were tense and said she had heard Pakistan commit to “some very specific action”, saying the country deserved more credit for its efforts in the war on militants. “I return to Washington ever more committed,” to the relationship, she said.
“The US and Pakistan have worked together to kill or capture many of these terrorists on Pakistani soil,” Clinton said
Although Clinton reminded of the aid and support US had provided to Pakistan so far, but she did not touch at all pending issues of economy wherein over $4 billion are overdue under KLB Act and Coalition Support Fund. Clinton said that despite the relations being in critical phase Pakistan has allowed US access to OBL compound and CIA and ISI would jointly inspect for possible leads and evidences.