Clinton Delivers Rebuke to Pakistan
By DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sharply rebuked the government of Pakistan on Wednesday, accusing the country’s leaders of surrendering large tracts of territory to the Taliban and saying that the country’s instability is a “mortal threat” to world peace.
“I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists,” Mrs. Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee as she responded to questions on an array of topics.
The secretary’s words were striking, aimed as they were at a nation that Washington has described as a key ally in the international campaign against terrorism. Her remarks may have been aimed not just at Pakistan’s rulers but at American lawmakers reluctant to provide more money for a region that has been a trouble spot.
The Obama administration is seeking nearly $76 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to bolster security in Pakistan. The porous border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been a spawning ground for Al Qaeda terrorists.
Mrs. Clinton spoke during an exchange with panel members about a recent agreement by the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, under prodding from religious conservatives within his country, to allow the imposition of harsh Islamic law in the Swat Valley. That development that was seen by outside analysts as an admission that Islamabad was losing its grasp of some of its territory.
Moreover, Mrs. Clinton said, the deterioration of security in nuclear-armed Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”
After accusing the Pakistani government of caving in to the Taliban, Mrs. Clinton went on in more scathing detail. “If you talk to people in Pakistan, especially in the ungoverned territories, which are increasing in number, they don’t believe the state has a judiciary system that works,” she said.
“It’s corrupt, it doesn’t extend its power into the countryside. So the government of Pakistan, however it is constituted, which is of course their business, not ours, must begin to deliver government services.”
Otherwise Ms. Clinton warned, “they are going to lose out to those who show up and claim that they can solve people’s problems, and then they will impose this harsh form of oppression on women and others.”