In Pakistan, Hillary Clinton announces new aid projects, lauds mango
The mood was upbeat during Hillary Clinton's two-day visit to Pakistan, in contrast to her visit in October. Today she announced plans for two hydroelectric dams and three hospital projects.
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“It’s a good sign and these discussions help move things along,” says businessman Sameer Qadir, who was told by Clinton that the US would consider looking at broader nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, along the lines that the US granted India in 2005. “We’ve already teed up our team of experts which must meet with their Pakistani counterparts,” she said, before cautioning that Pakistan must do more to clear its name as a nuclear proliferator.Skip to next paragraph
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To a question by a female audience member on whether the US would do more to foster sports for young people especially woman, Clinton pledged to look at greater assistance before remarking, “I’m old enough to remember when women didn’t have those opportunities in the States” and recalling the struggle to enact Title IX, which prevents gender discrimination in US education programs.
Clinton elicited laughs for telling a Kashmiri schoolteacher, who had urged Clinton to press India to resolve the decades-old dispute between India and Pakistan: “I’ll get to that before breakfast tomorrow.”
What about the Haqqani network?
“It’s always good to be able to give them an idea of our needs. The [Pakistani] media needs to now come on board and stop blaming the US for all our problems,” says Dr Ayesha Khan, an official in Pakistan’s Ministry of Health.
Later, at a roundtable discussion with Pakistani TV journalists, moderator Moeed Pirzada asked whether Clinton was bored by the fact that this time around, “hardly anyone is talking about Blackwater [a private security firm accused by some Pakistanis of carrying out terror attacks], or the US running away with Pakistan’s nukes.”
“Boring is good,” she quipped.
Some analysts caution that for all the feel-good talk and the softer rhetoric, US-Pakistan relations will remain dominated by the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s unwillingness to crack down on terror groups like the Haqqani network, which is widely believed to be fostered by the Pakistani security establishment.
“The money from the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill will keep coming but it may not come to the extent Pakistan hopes if Pakistan cannot get its act together,” says Cyril Almeida, a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-daily.
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