Washington: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned against abandoning Pakistan again as she urged Capitol Hill to back the administration’s request for assistance for key allies including Islamabad.
There are many challenges confronting us, but we know what happens when we walk away from Pakistan.We did it before, and the results, unfortunately, were quite dire for us,” she told lawmakers in a testimony before a House Appropriations Committee.
In Pakistan, she said, the United States “continues to demonstrate its commitment to an enduring strategic partnership focused on economic, military and police assistance to help root out extremists and support other critical investments.”
In answer to a legislator’s question she said the reaction when Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered was much more in keeping with “what I would expect and hope for any country that when someone who was a patriot, who stood up for the rights of all Pakistanis, including the minority communities, the minority Christian and the minority Islamic communities, was assassinated, people really did speak out and were quite upset.”
Clinton noted that the U.S. standing in Pakistan is difficult.
“When I became secretary of state, I realized that our public standing was as low in—was the lowest in Pakistan of any country in the world. And there are many reasons for that.”
“But one of the problems was we were not really trying to respond to a lot of the criticism and a lot of the accusations. So when the question came, I think from this side, about the increase in personnel, I mean, we’re beefing up our public diplomacy. We have a great story to tell about America, and we’re going to keep telling it. And we are telling it under very difficult circumstances.
“But our standing in Pakistan is very difficult, because there is just so much going on inside the country itself. And when I was here the first time in ‘09, I said that the Pakistanis needed to take on the extremists inside their own country. And they have done that.
“So there are things that are changing, but it’s a long way to go.”