Interview With Amir Zia of SAMAA TV
Interview With Amir Zia of SAMAA TV
Secretary of State
December 10, 2009
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. This is Amir Zia and welcome to SAMAA TV program Qaum Kay Samnay. I will start off with the most immediate topical subject. After the U.S. forces surge in Afghanistan, will the allied forces secure the borders – Pakistan, Afghanistan border – or will it be left to Pakistan to defend the border, because it suspects movement of militants from Afghanistan into Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We want to work closely with Pakistan. I think the additional troops that are going in will give the Afghan side of the border more protection. But we have to coordinate closely, because we know very well that this border is in such difficult terrain and it is hard to secure all of it, but we need more joint efforts on both sides, and we need to have the good advice and guidance of the Pakistani military to tell us where we should be, and we’ll work closely together.
QUESTION: And in the past, Pakistan had proposed to fence the long border with Afghanistan, but Kabul rejected this proposal. So what is your take on this proposal?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I know that Pakistan has fenced certain areas, particularly remote areas, and used other techniques to try to secure the border. We will work with Pakistan and we will also look for ways that can provide security in difficult-to-guard places, because we have problems securing our border with Mexico. I mean, securing borders is extremely difficult. So we have a lot of sympathy for the challenges that the Pakistanis are facing. But we just have to keep working at it and get better at how we protect the border.
QUESTION: On the question of feared possible influx of militants who might try to sneak into Pakistani areas, what does U.S. plan to coordinate with Pakistan? Will the U.S. support Pakistan in security and financial, because Pakistan already has the largest population of refugees in the world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: And we want to do a better job of coordinating with Pakistan. Of course, we currently are providing military and civilian aid in order to assist both the Pakistani Government and the Pakistani military and, most importantly, the Pakistani people. We’ve provided more aid than anyone for refugees, because we believe strongly that what Pakistan is doing in going after the militants, first in Swat and n ow in Waziristan, is very much in Pakistan’s interest, but it’s also in Afghanistan’s interest and it’s in the interest of the world, because these terrorists are now becoming a real threat to the state of Pakistan.
And – so we will continue to offer whatever assistance we can in order to support what the Pakistani military is doing.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Pakistan also has concerns about India’s engagement in Afghanistan and it alleges that some of the militants, some of the nationalists in Baluchistan province, they are given support by Indian officials to start up trouble in that province. Any (inaudible) Pakistan’s concerns on that account?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we think, very strongly, that it is in both Pakistan’s and India’s interest to get back to a dialogue and to try to address every one of these issues in an open way. It is not in India’s interest for Pakistan to be destabilized. It is not in Pakistan’s interest for Afghanistan to be destabilized. This neighborhood is now at risk because of the presence of terrorists who wish to destabilize India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. So the historical issues that, certainly are very significant between India and Pakistan, have to be addressed by the two countries, because otherwise you will think the worst of each other, and terrorists will try to create war between India and Pakistan, because that would further their gain as they did with Mumbai.
And that means that if you don’t try to have a dialogue again, where you can constantly be exchanging information and asking for proof and evidence of what you are worried about, you both could be at risk by the terrorists who have no concern about human life, who have no allegiance to Pakistan, who have only their own vision about what they would like to see happen. And I don’t think that most people in Pakistan, or frankly, most people in India, would like to see that.
QUESTION: And so the U.S. will welcome the resumption of talks between Pakistan and India, and also does U.S. encourage the two countries to solve some of the old problems, like Kashmir?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, absolutely. We know that no one on the outside can solve these problems. It can only be solved by the two countries themselves having that kind of ongoing dialogue. So we’ve encouraged both Pakistan and India to resume that dialogue and to talk about everything, including Kashmir, because now the security of both countries is threatened by these forces of extremism. And I believe that a lot of these terrorist groups are funded, directed, equipped, and trained by outside forces, not people from Pakistan, not people from India, but people who wish to see the two countries at – in conflict, and I think that is so critical to avoid. And the only way to avoid it is by getting back into a dialogue.
QUESTION: And Madame Secretary, since your resumption of office, you have been trying to reach out to the Pakistani people and you had an unprecedented diplomatic outreach of the Pakistani society. What could you say about the young Pakistani generation? You know, you interacted with the college students and the young media persons, how do you describe them?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well --
QUESTION: They have great respect for you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well – and I am very impressed. But I always am. I find that the Pakistani people, certainly my friends – Pakistani Americans who I know who are so successful in every walk of life, and the people who I meet in Pakistan, are just an incredibly impressive group of people – intelligent, well-spoken, lots of energy and dynamism. And I think that it’s just a wonderful testament to the resilience and the character of Pakistan. But that’s why, I guess, I care so much about the future, because so many of those young people, if there’s conflict, if there is a sense that there’s not much to stay in Pakistan for, they will join so many who have left, and that is a real loss for the country. Because if you could capture the intelligence, if you could focus on the problems, if you could increase the education and health levels of all the people, if you could really enshrine the democratic tradition, there is no way that Pakistan would not be at the top of the list of countries that were of importance, because they’re all the characteristics. But there’s a lot of work to be done. And that’s why the security challenges have to be addressed, the development challenges, the democracy challenges But I see people who are very much committed to doing that.
QUESTION: And finally, where did you see the U.S.-Pakistan relations heading in the future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope in a positive, good direction. Certainly, both President Obama and I are committed to that. We want to work hard to build more trust, to build more confidence, to clear away misunderstanding. It hurts my feelings when I read some of the press from Pakistan, it just is – it accuses the United States of everything. It just makes outlandish claims against us. And we are not perfect. And as you know, when I was in Pakistan, I admitted that we had not always been the best friend and partner. But I think we should be judged now by what we are trying to do and the efforts that we are undertaking. Both President Obama and I have a great deal of affection for Pakistan, count many Pakistanis among friends and acquaintances, and we want to see Pakistan have a better future. It’s not about us as much as it is about what we see as possible for Pakistan
QUESTION: And if I may, finally, one more question. Did you – on the social side – did you enjoy some of the Pakistani dishes --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yes.
QUESTION: -- on your trip?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have enjoyed a lot of Pakistani food in my time. I had a good friend in Washington who used to send platters of it over to the White House for my husband and me to enjoy, made in his own kitchen. And the – our ambassador had an event, bringing together a lot of the leaders of Pakistan, particularly artistic, cultural leaders, academic leaders, and it was an extraordinary evening because they had the best cuisine from each section of Pakistan. So you would go to a long table where delicacies from Karachi and Singh or Lahore and the Punjab or Baluchistan – I mean, it was wonderful. And so I ate way too much and I’m still recovering. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Great to talk to you.
QUESTION: I’m grateful to you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. Oh, if I could – can I just say one more thing before we break, if that’s okay?
QUESTION: Yes, please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I wanted to also inform your viewers that a number of Pakistani Americans are creating the Pakistan American Foundation in order to come together as other members of the diaspora have done in our country in the past, to raise money to be used to help the people of Pakistan. It’s not a government project; it’s real people-to-people. And I’m very grateful that the Pakistani American community really wants to be part of the outreach to Pakistan that we think can make a difference.
QUESTION: And thank you. And one more. What do you feel for the Pakistani people who suffer from acts of violence each time you listen to – from Peshawar or Lahore? Would you like to say something?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I – it just hurts my heart to hear reports of terrorists setting off bombs in a women’s market in Peshawar, killing women and children, or going into the cafeteria at the Islamic University in Islamabad or going into a mosque. I just cannot even imagine. If these terrorists believe they are so right, tell them to form a political party. Tell them to make their case in a peaceful way to the people of Pakistan.
But it is wrong, it is inhuman, it is barbaric to indiscriminately kill people to try to intimidate and terrorize. So I don’t think that the government or the military of Pakistan have any choice but to stand firmly against these kinds of terrorist acts.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.