Washington gasps at Hillary's charm-el-shake offensive in Islamabad

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  1. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Washington gasps at Hillary charm-el-shake offensive that leaves Islamabad stunned


    Chidanand Rajghattaa, TNN 30 October 2009, 10:47am IST


    WASHINGTON: It was supposed to be a charm offensive, but as the day wore on she put away her charm and went on the offensive. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public dressing down of Pakistan during a three-day visit there, including virtually accusing the country of complicity with al-Qaida, has shaken Washington as much as it stunned her hosts.

    "Her inner voice became her outer voice," Martha Raddatz, a veteran NBC correspondent said on the network, explaining that while many in the administration believed what she said to be true (that Pakistan is coddling terrorists), it was rare for America's top diplomat to say it publicly. Officials in Washington were trying to keep a straight face, but there were a few gasps, she added.

    Clinton's blunt remarks came during a pow-wow with half-dozen combative senior Pakistani journalists who harried her about US policy in the region.

    "Al-Qaida has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002," she finally asserted when challenged about Washington’s tough prescriptions for Islamabad. "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to."

    After having publicly doubted the bona fides of her hosts, she added, as an afterthought: "Maybe that's the case; maybe they're not gettable...I don't know. As far as we know, they are in Pakistan." At one point during the exchanges, when a journalist spoke about all the services rendered by Pakistan for the US, Mrs Clinton snapped, "We have also given you billions."

    The US Secretary of State also took a swipe at the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies, telling the senior journalists, "If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together" then "there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and with your military security establishment." She said she was "more than willing to hear every complaint about the United States'' but the relationship had to be a "two-way street."

    Clinton’s caustic comments came even as Pakistani forces recovered the passport of 9/11 plotter Said Bahaji in South Waziristan, underscoring yet another reason for the relentless U.S pressure not to allow al-Qaida and its affiliates to have a safe base there. In US, several terror suspects apprehended by authorities over the years, including a Pakistani-American from Chicago held earlier this month, have said they visited Pakistan’s Fata region to hook up with terrorist handlers.

    But Clinton seemed unable to convince her hosts that they were in the ground zero of terrorism. Some Pakistani analysts have argued in the past that 9/11 was essentially a plot hatched in Europe by mostly Saudi nationals. Other wing-nut conspiracy theorists blame US and Israel. But US investigators have pointed to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region as the base for the hijackers and many other terrorist enterprises -- one reason why Washington is insistent on sanitizing the area.

    The 9/11 investigations in fact pointed to Mohammed Atta and co., emerging from the area and subsequently receiving money transfers from Pakistan when they moved to the United States. Most terrorist attacks across the world, going back to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, have also been traced to Pakistan, rather than to Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq.

    Clinton appeared to get feisty after a meeting with university students in Lahore where she had to entertain several whiny questions about US' treatment of a long-serving ally. "They described a litany of slights, betrayals and misunderstandings that add up to a national narrative of grievance, against which she did her best to push back,'' the New York Times said in its description of the event.

    And push back she did. Faced with criticism about what some Pakistanis believe is inadequate US aid, Clinton suggested to a group of Pakistani businessmen that it’s about time the country also learnt to take care of itself instead.

    "At the risk of sounding undiplomatic, Pakistan has to have internal investment in your public services and your business opportunities," Clinton said, adding, in a reference to the large-scale tax evasion in the country. ''The percentage of taxes on GDP is among the lowest in the world... We (the United States) tax everything that moves and doesn’t move, and that’s not what we see in Pakistan."

    She then issued a stark warning to the country: ''You do have 180 million people. Your population is projected to be about 300 million. And I don’t know what you’re gonna do with that kind of challenge, unless you start planning right now."

    Earlier, at the meeting with students, she essayed a similar warning to a questioner who complained about the US forcing Pakistan to fight a war on its own territory: "If you want to see your territory shrink [by allowing terrorists to expand their space], that’s your choice. But I don’t think that’s the right choice."

    Clinton’s remarks rocked Washington on the eve of President Obama’s seventh, and possibly final, review of the Af-Pak strategy, slated for Friday. ''She is challenging them...it is a high-risk strategy,'' Richard Haas, a prominent policy pundit, said in a television interview.

    But despite the charm offensive heading into a potential PR disaster, the word in Washington is that Uncle Sam will continue to lavish more guns and butter on Pakistan, as it has done for decades, this time in the name of defeating terrorism. If anything, Pakistan's own angry counter-offensive is poised to yield an even bigger bonanza.


    Washington gasps at Hillary charm-el-shake offensive that leaves Islamabad stunned - US - World - The Times of India
     
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  3. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

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    Haha. Rajghatta doesn't mince words when it comes to Pakistan, eh?
     
  4. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hillary Clinton's Plain-Speaking in Pakistan

    by B. Raman

    Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, needs to be complimented for her plain-speaking on Pakistani inaction against Al Qaeda during the course of a public interaction in Lahore during her visit to Pakistan from October 28 to 30, 2009.

    2. She expressed in an unmistakable manner US skepticism over the Pakistani sincerity in hunting for the remnants of Al Qaeda which have taken shelter in Pakistani territory. In the past, US officials refrained from giving public expression to this skepticism lest it affect whatever co-operation Pakistan was extending to the US in the search for Al Qaeda remnants.

    3. The publicly-expressed US exasperation with Pakistan has to be seen in the light of the fact that after the exit of Pervez Musharraf from office as the President last year, even the co-operation which Pakistan was extending to the US in its search for Al Qaeda leaders seems to have stopped. The Musharraf Government did help the US in the arrest of some important members of Al Qaeda such as Abu Zubaidah, Ramzi Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Abu-Faraj al-Libi and others. Compared to that, since the present elected Government came to office last year, there has been hardly any capture of any notable remnant of Al Qaeda by the Pakistani Security Forces.

    4. Of course, the Government of President Asif Ali Zardari has closed its eyes to the increasing strikes by US drones against terrorist hide-outs in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) while making pro forma protests over them in public, but these strikes are increasingly targeted against elements of the Pakistani Taliban, which pose a threat to the Pakistani Army. The Pakistani Army has reasons to be grateful to the US for these strikes which help it in its operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

    5. While benefiting from the US action, the present Pakistani Government has failed to reciprocate by extending to the US even the limited co-operation against Al Qaeda that it was getting from the Musharraf Government. Expectations that the coming into office of an elected civilian Government would improve the co-operation against Al Qaeda have been belied so far.

    6. The Government of President Barack Obama has been even more generous to the Islamabad Government than the previous Bush Administration in respect of civilian and military assistance, but such assistance has not motivated the Pakistani authorities to change their policy of inaction against Al Qaeda and collusion with the Afghan Taliban and the anti-India jihadi terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).

    7. The Pakistani leaders-----political and military---- and large sections of its civil society think that by virtue of its strategic location Pakistan has a moral right to expect and receive such assistance from the US without any quid pro quo from its side. Unless this Pakistani impression that its strategic location and nuclear capability give it a hold over US policy-making is removed from their mind, the US is unlikely to make any progress against the Afghan Taliban and against Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The bloated impression in the minds of Pakistani leaders that Pakistan is indispensable to US interests in the region has to be removed.

    8. Even if one understands the US reluctance under the previous Bush Administration as well as under the Obama Administration to take punitive action against Pakistan, one fails to understand the continuing US propensity to pamper Pakistan with more and more assistance in the fond hope that such pampering could finally make Pakistan act sincerely against Al Qaeda and other terrorists. Hillary Clinton's public expression of the US exasperation has not created any concerns in Pakistani policy-making circles because they are confident that the US will not ultimately act against Pakistan.

    9. Plain-speaking alone will not do. The time has come for plain action which will carry the unmistakable message to the Pakistani leaders that it is not as indispensable as they seem to think it is.

    (The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: [email protected])

    Hillary Clinton's Plain-Speaking in Pakistan
     
  5. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Telling The Truth

    This opinion piece appeared in the WSJ and was written by Sumit Ganguly.
    This op-ed shows the unease the US has with the links of Pakistani establishment with terror elements and despite all the evidence the reluctance to take the issue with Pakistan.

    Break the US silence on Pakistan

    Telling the truth: break US silence on Pakistan - Columns - livemint.com
     

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