Clinton: Hard to believe Pakistan can't find Al Qaeda
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's blunt comments about Al Qaeda havens during her trip to Pakistan have raised eyebrows.
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The Times of India reports that during a press conference with Pakistani reporters, Mrs. Clinton noted that Al Qaeda has been hiding in Pakistan since 2002, and said she found it "hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to."
After having publicly doubted the bona fides of her hosts, she added, as an afterthought: "Maybe that's the case; maybe they're not gettable.... I don't know. As far as we know, they are in Pakistan." At one point during the exchanges, when a journalist spoke about all the services rendered by Pakistan for the US, Mrs Clinton snapped, "We have also given you billions."
The US Secretary of State also took a swipe at the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies, telling the senior journalists, "If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together," then "there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and with your military security establishment." She said she was "more than willing to hear every complaint about the United States,'' but the relationship had to be a "two-way street."
Clinton's comments are particularly noteworthy because her visit to Pakistan was meant to be a "fence-mending tour," the Los Angeles Times writes, and Pakistan is currently engaged in a military campaign against Taliban forces in South Waziristan.
Daniel Markey of the Council on Foreign Relations said he was surprised that Clinton would raise the issue of Pakistan's efforts on Al Qaeda, given the current fragility of the civilian government.
"It seems like an odd time to come in and send this one across the bow," said Markey, a former State Department official just returned from a trip to Pakistan. ...
A Pakistani official predicted that Clinton's comments would make some people in Pakistan angry, "some perhaps violently so." But he said that in his view, Clinton's candor was a sign that the relationship was maturing.