Clinton: “Pakistan relationship vital to American security”
The Obama administration’s top diplomat on Thursday told members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, despite suspicions of duplicity by the Pakistani government, a relationship with that Islamic nation is vital to U.S. security interests.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned the lawmakers that expecting complete cooperation from the Pakistani government will be difficult and emotionally trying.
In the aftermath of the May 1 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout by U.S. Navy SEALs, the Pakistani military and intelligence officials were outraged that the U.S. would keep the operation – that finally killed the world’s most wanted terrorist — a secret.
Secretary Clinton told the Senators that President Barack Obama and his administration are eager to work with the Pakistani government in fighting terrorism.
Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-MA) and other Senators asked Secretary Clinton questions regarding U.S. policy in the Middle East and northern Africa.
Kerry complained about the U.S. spending over $100 billion a year in Afghanistan while spending a less than 3% of that amount in Pakistan in 2010.
“I don’t mean to insult Afghanistan or saying anything pejorative about the efforts and what is at stake there — but in many ways, the Afghanistan war is a sideshow to the main event, if you will, that is next door,” Kerry said.
However, that was Kerry argument during his presidential run in 2004 when he claimed Iraq was a sideshow and Afghanistan was the main event. President Obama made similar statements during his presidential campaign in 2008 when he called Iraq a diversion and that “Afghanistan was the good war.”
Some observers told the Law Enforcement Examiner that Clinton’s performance before the Senate Committee was rehearsed and lacked confidence.
“We are supposed to believe that Senator Hillary Clinton is suddenly a military strategist and someone whose opinion is to be valued? Why? Clinton’s much heralded military experience is a myth except for her being married to a draft dodger,” said an angry former military intelligence officer now working as a federal police commander.
“And the chairman, Kerry, was wrong in 2001. He was wrong in 2003. He was wrong in 2004. And he’s wrong this year,” said the police commander.
Senator Clinton sternly said that U.S. military and intelligence officials are going to demand more cooperation from the Pakistanis. “But we are not going to expect any miracles overnight,” she said.
During the committee hearing, a Pew Research Center survey was read into the record stating the survey found a mere 12% of Pakistan’s citizens had a favorable view of the United States, while 63% of them disapproved of the military strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden.
Lawmakers and analysts familiar with the region have long been split on how deal with Pakistan, especially its intelligence service and secret police. Many believe that far too many officials responsible for fighting terrorism are actually working with certain groups such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Haqqani Group.
Also discussed at the hearing was President Barack Obama’s earlier announcement of troop drawdowns from Afghanistan.