WASHINGTON, April 24: Two days of continuous congressional hearings on the Obama administration’s foreign policy brought a rare concession from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who acknowledged that the United States too had a share in creating the problem that plagues Pakistan today.
In an appearance before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, Mrs Clinton explained how the militancy in Pakistan was linked to the US-backed proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
“We can point fingers at the Pakistanis. I did some yesterday frankly. And it’s merited because we are wondering why they just don’t go out there and deal with these people,” said Mrs Clinton while referring to an earlier hearing in which she said that Pakistan posed a “mortal threat” to the world.
“But the problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan,” she said.
“Let’s remember here… the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union.
“They invaded Afghanistan… and we did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work… and it was President Reagan in partnership with Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea… let’s deal with the ISI and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideen.
“And great, let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.
“And guess what … they (Soviets) retreated … they lost billions of dollars and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“So there is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment in terms of Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest.
“So we then left Pakistan … We said okay fine you deal with the Stingers that we left all over your country… you deal with the mines that are along the border and… by the way we don’t want to have anything to do with you… in fact we’re sanctioning you… So we stopped dealing with the Pakistani military and with ISI and we now are making up for a lot of lost time.”
It was a question from Congressman Adam Shciff, a California Democrat that spurred Secretary Clinton to delve into history and come out with an answer that other US politicians have avoided in the past. The congressman noted that while the US had provided “a phenomenal amount of military support for Pakistan,” they had not changed the paradigm. “And more pernicious, there are elements within the Pakistani intelligence services, the ISI that may be working at cross-purposes with us.
“How we can possibly be funding the Pakistani military if elements of the military or intelligence services are actually working against us and having the effect of killing our troops next door?” he asked.