WASHINGTON, May 19: The US secretary of state acknowledged on Tuesday that Washington had not been consistent in its dealings with Islamabad. Talking to reporters at the Foreign Press Centre and the White House, Hillary Clinton said “it is fair to say that our policy towards Pakistan over the last 30 years has been incoherent. I don’t know any other word”.
About the military operation, Hillary Clinton said the United States was working with Pakistan to determine and disrupt the route for supplying weapons to the Taliban.
“Yes, we know that the extremists are being supplied,” she said when asked why the US was unable to determine and disrupt the Taliban supply route. The secretary recalled that in the 1980s, the US partnered with Pakistan to help train the Mujahideen.
“Their security service and the military were encouraged to go after the Soviets in Afghanistan” and when they withdrew in 1989, “we said thank you very much”.
Mrs Clinton said while it was fair to apportion responsibility to Pakistan, but the US also shared the responsibility for what happened during and after the Afghan war.
“What President Obama is doing is qualitatively different from anything done before. We support the elected government … it is a relationship very clear, honest to each other.”
The US, the secretary added, was assisting the new government in Islamabad to be “as successful as possible in delivering, we believe the future of Pakistan is extremely important for the US … the advance of extremism is a threat to our security”.
She underscored America’s “very strong” support for the effort by the Pakistan army for defeating the terrorists.
Mrs Clinton said the Al Qaeda and their allies were intent upon harming not only US friends and allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan but also in the US homeland and to American citizens.
“They have not given up on their desire to inflict damage, harm and murder on the USA … this is how we see helping our friends and allies … we have walked away in the past … now we are going to forge a partnership with the government and the people of Pakistan.
“We are working very closely with the intelligence service of Pakistan and others to determine where are the weapons coming from. We are working with Pakistan to disrupt the supply line.”
Taliban supply line
Mrs Clinton noted that the route used to supply the militants passed through a very difficult terrain and the Taliban were being aided by local residents who knew the trail very well.
“So it is a challenge but we are addressing that.” I
n reply to a question, the secretary said the US was neither engaged in any military operation in Pakistan nor did it have any role in the delivery of relief goods. She said that while it was difficult to speculate why former president Pervez Musharraf did what he did while he was in power, “he ended his time in office when extremists had found sanctuary in Pakistan and were the strongest”.
Hillary Clinton said she believed the present government in Pakistan had recognised the serious threat posed by the Taliban.
“I am very encouraged by the comments of the PM (Mr Gilani) and the former PM (Nawaz Sharif)” made on this issue, she observed. “They have a recognition that it is no longer about a part of a country that seems quite different from Lahore or Islamabad.”
Mrs Clinton said the beating of a woman in Swat had an electric effect on Pakistanis inside and out of the country as all were shocked to see this public flogging.