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Interview With Hassan Abbas of Watandost.com

Interview With Hassan Abbas of Watandost.com

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

December 10, 2009

QUESTION: The first question is in relation to the point you were discussing earlier, your visit to Pakistan You went to mosque, you went to a (inaudible), you talked to students, you went to a police office where people were killed, you went to the museum of Iqbal, the man who (inaudible) Pakistan’s area. It was deemed in Pakistani media as a courageous act, your outreach. Even those who were critical of U.S. policy were appreciative of your courage and giving a message to the Pakistani leadership also.

What were the signs of hope, that in all that process, you saw in Pakistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, the resilience and the courage of the Pakistani people. Everywhere I went, I met people who are speaking out and standing up and working hard, and that was extremely moving to me. I also felt like both the civilian government and the military leadership understood that the threat they faced had to be addressed.

And I thought that was very promising, because the terrorist threat to Pakistan is growing and it’s intense and it can only be defeated by the Pakistani people coming together and rejecting it, in the first instance, trying to present a different narrative than the one that the terrorists are putting forth, using military force where they must, but mostly by developing the democratic institutions, by developing the country, clearly demonstrating that Pakistan has no room for those who want to tear down, because the Pakistani people want to build.

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QUESTION: Related to this, and especially because you were one of the first, I would say, foreign leaders who went to police lines also – police officers went, because Pakistan police is on the front lines of this war.


QUESTION: And I, before an academic, I was a police officer in Pakistan, so my question is, in that context, there’s a lot of talk – there’s a history of U.S. military Pakistan – U.S.-Pakistan relationship in terms of a lot of military support, military-to-military relationship. But now there’s a view that on this (inaudible), police and law enforcement will be reformed, that Pakistan will not be able to fight the militants in Punjab or Karachi and elsewhere. Military cannot go and fight everywhere. Are they – are you thinking on those lines? Is U.S. – be thinking of supporting Pakistan’s police and law enforcement?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we would be honored to do so, because I agree with you that the police truly are on the front lines. They often have to deal with the rush of violence that comes in cities or towns and they don’t have the support they need, they don’t often have the equipment that they need. And as you say, I met a number of police officers, both in Lahore and in Islamabad, who are very committed, but under-resourced. And I am more than happy to consider any request from the Pakistani Government to help the police force, because I agree completely that they’re the front line of defense.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m sure I have – this would make a headline because --


QUESTION: -- the police – I talked to many police officers, my former colleagues --


QUESTION: -- and others who know that their lives are really threatened, and police is one of the very few institutions in Pakistan where there’s an internal institutional effort for reform. So this – your message that yes, you would be happy to hear any request for that support would be --


QUESTION: -- absolutely great. My next question is about US. relations with the Muslim world overall. There’s clearly – (inaudible) set a new tone of dialogue, reconciliation and respect, and President Obama’s speeches in Turkey and in Cairo were absolutely great and gave the right message. What is the kind of follow-up on that? What are the next stages of that relationship?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a great question because we’ve been working very hard on follow-up, and I recently attended a conference in Marrakesh, Morocco where we announced a number of follow-up actions. The one that was just embraced wholeheartedly was the idea of science envoys. I said at the time that much of the science that we take for granted today was really discovered and refined in prior times by Islamic scholars and scientists. And from astronomy to algebra, there’s so much that we owe to the Muslim world, and there needs now to be a renewed emphasis on science, which is not incompatible with religion, and therefore, we’re going to be sending Nobel science prize winners, former heads of the National Academy of Sciences, and so many others to visit universities and governments to try to rekindle that with our help.

We’re also investing in more English language education programs. We’re investing in more business programs, entrepreneurship programs. We’re going to start a series of interfaith dialogues. There will be a lot of follow-up to Cairo because we have had such demand and we’re going to try to meet it.

QUESTION: Thank you. You have already discussed about Pakistani diaspora. And like many of the diaspora, also at large level, the Muslim diaspora in the United States benefitting from there as also – bridge builders between U.S. and the Muslim world. Are there any other Muslim diaspora as well as other than Pakistan that you feel encouraged about or you think that they can play a role?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question. Well, I do believe that the Palestinian diaspora has been galvanized around economic development. A number of my Palestinian American friends are making investments in the West Bank because the security has improved so much thanks to the good work of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. So there is a rather dramatic increase in the economic activity in the West Bank which many American Palestinians are investing in.

There are a number of Indian Muslims who are very involved in interfaith and other outreach activities. I do a lot of work with the Bangladeshi community, which is not as involved as the Pakistani community has been in academia or in professional activity, but is really at the grassroots in a lot of countries – or a lot of cities in our country. So I think those are some examples of what we’re working on.

QUESTION: My last question – thank you very much for this time – about India-Pakistan relations, yes, the United States has said many times that the U.S. would like to facilitate and there’s no doubt, I think, about the sincerity of that. But of course, there are limitations in terms of how much, whether U.S. can really sit on the table and bring the parties together, and perhaps India is not – because of its stature, because of history, is not very comfortable with that. How will China – when President Obama went to China, there was a very interesting statement he made about the China (inaudible). The European Union also is interested.

Do you think there might be some chance in future that might (inaudible)– I’m not trying to compare it with what happened in North Korea and Iran, the P-5 and all those efforts – but is there a possibility that EU, China, and United States altogether can take an initiative to really bring Pakistan and India together and say, how can they all help them resolve? Because we continuously hear that theater of – Af-Pak theater is the most critical, which would define maybe the future security concerns.


QUESTION: Will that international effort, do you think, might work?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it could be a guarantor or it could be a positive force for implementation. But I think that the impetus must come from the two countries themselves. And at some point, both countries might say we’ve gotten as far as we can get; therefore we need some support, we need some new energy. But we have to start with the two countries and with their commitment to pursuing this dialogue first.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. So kind of you.


QUESTION: I really appreciate it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Maybe I’ll see you in New York.

QUESTION: Absolutely.


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