Engagement is way forward with Pakistan: US


WASHINGTON – The United States’ on-again, off-again relationship with Pakistan over the past several decades has been to Washington’s detriment, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an emphasis on pursuing stable bilateral ties. Clinton believed in an appearance before a key Congressional panel that a combination of civilian and military engagement with Pakistan provides the way forward in the US relations. “I do think it’s fair to say that our on-again, off-again relationship going back 30, 40 years has been to our detriment,” she reminded members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee amid lingering row over status of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who is under detention since killing two Pakistanis in Lahore in January.
“There’s nothing easy about this. And striking the right balance is a constant calculation, but we think that we have no way forward other than to continue to engage both civilian and military with the Pakistanis,” Clinton said. She was responding to a question by Congressman David Cicilline, who wanted to know how the administration balanced its interest in strengthening US relationship with Pakistan and at the same time deal with the extremism threat along its Afghan border.
Her remarks on the Capitol Hill, where Clinton advocated the significance of US assistance for Pakistan and Afghanistan, appeared to be part of an attempt to ease tensions that emerged in the US-Pakistan relationship after early rhetoric on Raymond Davis episode.
The top American diplomat said the US ties with Pakistan should be seen in a historical context. “We enlisted the Pakistani people and government in our efforts to push out the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, which was one of the contributing factors to the fall of the Soviet Union. Then we accomplished that and we left.
And we left them with jihadis and with drugs and with – awash in guns and money. And unfortunately, we saw some of the results that flowed from that.” Clinton also referred to the harm wrought by the Pakistan-specific Pressler Amendment on bilateral relations when the US imposed discriminatory sanctions on Islamabad in the 1990s.
“We also had a difficulty with them regarding what was called the Pressler amendment. You know, Admiral Mullen is fond of saying that every single soldier in the Pakistani military knows what the Pressler amendment was, and not a single American soldier does, because it had such an impact on ending training and ending military-to-military relationships, and again, to our detriment.”
She also hihglighted Pakistan’s anti-militant success over the last two years.
“If you look at what they have done since the last time I testified before this – first time I testified before this committee in early ’09 and I said then that the Pakistanis were ceding territory to the terrorists, they were not going after them in their own country with their own military, that’s been 180 degrees.
They have taken a lot of losses.
They have pursued those extremists who are attacking them. They have worked with us to go after extremists who are attacking our troops and our interests. But it is a constant calculation about how best to work with the Pakistani government.” Pakistan, she said, has “a lot of internal pressures that make it difficult for them, but I would say, sitting here testifying before this committee, that in the last two years, we’ve made progress, but we have a long, long way to go before we can see the kind of stability that we think is necessary for the region and for American interests.”