Meeting with Pashtun Leaders

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Islamabad, Pakistan
October 30, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all for coming today. And let me start by apologizing for keeping you waiting. We had a number of activities at the embassy that lasted longer than they were scheduled to last. So thank you, again, for taking time to join me here. I think that many of you know our ambassador, Ambassador Anne Patterson. Some of you, I know, know our Special Representative Ambassador Holbrooke. We are very grateful to you for being willing to come and really assist us and me personally and hearing directly from you about the issues, the challenges that you’re facing, to answer any questions that you might have, because we are very aware of the difficulties that are playing out in the North-West Frontier Province in FATA. We are well aware of the displaced peoples from Malakand. We are watching the situation in South Waziristan. We have provided aid for people who have displaced by the military campaign against the elements inside the country that have, unfortunately, been challenging the state and its institutions.


But we also want to know what could be done and what role of partnership could the United States play in helping many of you who are involved in education, involved in NGOs, involved in local and national governments to be able to provide more support for the development and the needs of the people in the areas from which you come and that some of you represent.


There’s a great deal of interest and commitment on the part of the Obama Administration, both President Obama and I are very committed to our relationship with Pakistan. We both have college friends from Pakistan. We have many friends who are Pakistani Americans. This is my fifth trip to the country. I had hoped to be able to come to visit in some of your communities. That was not possible. And I am deeply, deeply sorry about the latest horrific attack in Peshawar with the loss of life and the damage that it caused in personal terms and obvious impact on the larger community.


So I’m here mostly to listen, because I am very grateful for this opportunity. And I want to really ask you to feel free to say whatever’s on your mind. I think if you have followed my trip for the last two days, you know I’m here to listen. I’m here to respond. We may not always agree. But I want the kind of relationship that friends should have. I don’t know anyone who agrees with all their friends. I don’t know anyone who agrees with all their family members. And so part of what I want to do is to leave the past behind, to turn a page on our relationship, and to really work together as partners. And where we disagree, to be as open as we can with one another, but to look for more areas of agreement that will enable us to really improve the lives of people.


I came into my public service because I care deeply about children, and that has been the motivation for much of what I have done my entire life. And I think that talent is distributed evenly across the world, but opportunity is not. And it is something I believe in very strongly that people should have the chance to fulfill their God-given potential. I think that is part of what we are called to try to create conditions for. So I’m interested in the people, not just in the politics. I’m interested in the public, not just in the government officials. So that’s why I appreciate so greatly your coming to be with me.


So with that, let me turn it over to you, to anyone who wishes to start the conversation. And I know that there are people following this from the press from Pakistan and the United States, so perhaps if you could introduce yourself again so people will know who’s talking that would be helpful.


QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. This is (inaudible). I am president of our (inaudible). Welcome, Madame Secretary. We are very glad to have you. It’s an honor for us (inaudible). I’ll make quick points – two points. First of all, as you know, the democratic government from the very first day came out of the mode of denial about the existence of an extremist insurgency in our country. And we decided to face it and we decided to accept the challenge. By the grace of God, we have been able to defeat it in Malakand. Our armed forces have done a great job. They (Inaudible) and fully supported by the people of the province and the whole country. In fact, political party was supporting that operation, and we were able to eliminate them.


But we still have a problem in FATA with – there are terrorist forces with bases in FATA. They are attacking that province day in and day out. And it’s (inaudible) like a parallel state. I think to defeat the terrorist in FATA is something very important. And the people of FATA have nothing to do with it. The people of FATA are victims. We are not perpetrators. It’s the terrorist who have occupied this area. FATA is like Afghanistan was before September 11th, unfortunately, and we have to change the situation (inaudible) peace if.


But to have this, I think we have to rebuild Malakand (inaudible). It’s a model. It has to become a model. The Talibans are defeating in Malakand totally. The government has been established, now the process of reconstruction started. We are looking towards the (inaudible) community in general, and the United States of America in particular, to help assistance, economic assistance and to turn this area into a model so that it can be repeated in other places also.


I thank you very much.


SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) I thank you. And I announced yesterday that we will be providing additional funding -- $25 million for the reconstruction in Malakand. We believe strongly that we have to help the people who have been, as you say, the victims. I agree with you in applauding the courage of your military.


But as you point out, this is by no means over. There are still challenges to the lives of livelihoods of the people in Pakistan and to the writ of the government. So we will work directly with local officials and local NGOs, as well as to the government to try to help.


MR. WOOD: I’m (inaudible). I have three quick (inaudible). We appreciate that (inaudible) you give us, also to talk to you and talk about (inaudible). As a social worker (inaudible), I’m dealing IDPs also and all other social protection we are dealing. Right now, we are (inaudible) IDPs, including (inaudible) it’s an ongoing problem. We are waiting for peace in the tribal (inaudible) as the senator said. It’s all the – the problem is the FATA area.


But we, the provincial government, we have extra burden of all the IDPs as well as other problems which we are facing like (inaudible), the bomb blast and the civilians are facing a lot of problems. So we all have to work on the one side to strengthen the government departments, because it is very important. We are just a poor country. We are civilians actually. We are facing a lot of problems. So we have to work for our civilians. We have to give them (inaudible) and that should be a quick and visible change in their lives; that is very important, because they are looking at us right now, at what we are doing for them.


And in the trust (inaudible), I believe that this is very important, and that 50 percent trust fund should come directly to the (inaudible). We can then work with NGOS. I personally believe that (inaudible), public partnerships are very important for sustainability and (inaudible). So it should come to the (inaudible) and (inaudible) with NGOs, the public and NGOs will work together on different issues.


Then (inaudible) also. And right now, we are (inaudible) and IDP situation. But along with that, I think (inaudible) development is very important, because we are the ones who are suffering from this (inaudible) situation also. And we have a lot of skilled women. We should develop (inaudible) for our skilled women who are already there, especially in Malakand when they are talking about their recent (inaudible). And there is (inaudible) region. And then there (inaudible) that (inaudible) division, (inaudible) division. This all should (inaudible). But they are the ones who are suffering a lot indirectly because of these militant attacks.


And at the end, I would like that we all should work for our civilians to give them more comfort (inaudible). We have got to find (inaudible), even they don’t that what is happening, but they are suffering. So we all have to work for them.


SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you’re right. And I think that people who are being subjected to this violence deserve to have comfort and assistance. And then I share your emphasis on women and children, because very often they are the ones who are suffering, sometimes the loss of a husband and a father, which makes it impossible for them to figure out to support themselves. As we saw in the terrible attack the other day, it was aimed at a women’s market. So I agree with you. And we will follow up with you to see what specific ways we could target some of what we’re hoping to do.


QUESTION: (Via interpreter) And I have a difference of opinion (inaudible). We are sitting on a wall --


SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) pull it up, so we can hear you.


QUESTION: (Via interpreter) We are sitting on a wall, on the side of which there are government forces and the other side (inaudible) that are Taliban forces. And we know the strengths and weakness of both the parties.


When other people talk against extremism, it’s easier for them because they are not from the same community of people. But when we talk against it, it’s different for us because we are from the same community, the same mosque, and the same areas. And about a week or so ago, we had had a convention in which we had – we gathered many scholars who (inaudible) – 20,000 scholars (inaudible) against terrorism.


Our opinion is that either there is something wrong with a prescription which cannot heal person, that prescription should be changed. Our (inaudible) that can set up (inaudible) work in the fields. Every (inaudible) person (inaudible) of white people. The Obama Administration has called for change, that is why (inaudible). If you won’t change your policy, then we’ll still keep using our (inaudible), then we would think that that slogan of change is not being (inaudible).


(Inaudible) I would like to say that we’ve been fighting your war, and we were fighting in the past and we are fighting your war now. And it is in such a way that the people (inaudible). And in America (inaudible) of peace we want for our people (inaudible).


Your presence in the region has not been good for peace, because (inaudible). War has given you power (inaudible). Talk of (inaudible) is the talk of (inaudible). We have known from the (inaudible) that the use of power (inaudible). So why are using that means which (inaudible)? It’s important for the nations of the world (inaudible). When you come to Iraq, you don’t ask the United Nations. When you came into Afghanistan, you asked the UN, but you pressurized the UN into submission and they agreed to what you were demanding of them. (Inaudible) the problem, even the problem like (inaudible).


In (inaudible). To all of our problems (inaudible) we should negotiate again (inaudible).


Thank you for (inaudible) to be patient.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And I certainly agree that negotiations are important, and I hope there will be an opportunity for there to be negotiations so that the violence will end and the perpetrators of the violence will be prevented from continuing their activity. That is our hope, and we certainly would welcome the ideas and the support of local people to enable us to (inaudible) that, because (inaudible) there has to be willingness. And after we were attacked on 9/11 (inaudible) was a terrible tragedy in our country. (Inaudible) to the Taliban then in charge (inaudible). If he will turn over the people who attack us, we will go away. And the answer came back, no. So the local people basically sided with foreigners who had brought different ideas and different attitudes to this beautiful land.


But I think you understand, even though we prefer negotiations, and we (inaudible) system, we could not leave such (inaudible), especially after we tried to solve it peacefully. So we looked for chances to do exactly what you are proposing, and we would welcome your ideas about that.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) from the (inaudible). I’d like to focus on (inaudible) to this country. The first point is that I think in Pakistan institutions are weakened and in the last few years they have become even weaker. Most of it is driven by personalities and (inaudible) personalities. A good example of this was the IDP crisis in the North-West Frontier. The institutions (inaudible) did not function. But a special unit that was created for it, functioned perfectly because it brought the (inaudible) people together. (Inaudible.)




Secondly, I think the U.S. Government has exercised democratic responsibility in its aid to Pakistan. I think there is very good (inaudible). But it seems like –




If soldiers are going to die in the field, and governments is not going to improve on the other side, I think it will be a severe setback for democracy in this country. There are very simple instruments by which governments will be dealt at the local level –




The third point is, I think the U.S. Government needs to balance (inaudible) accountability around the country. (Inaudible) accountability to the Congress is perfect. I think it’s very good –




So these two really need to be balanced.




SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s very useful and (inaudible) specific ideas about how best to do that.


QUESTION: (Inaudible)




Now we have around about 1,000 students. We have affiliated about 21 colleges for (inaudible). And that makes the total number of students –




And plus we would like you to help us in the capacity building of our –




SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. We will look into that, because I’ve heard that in Lahore yesterday and again today with your comments. And we want to be helpful with education, so we’ll look into the programs –




An educated family has a very positive effect on that family’s future, so we will follow up with you on that.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I think my visit because we have –




So I think we should keep that (inaudible) that we should proactively access the impact of policies on women and children, especially (inaudible) community. Peace building is something – I keep on saying that most of the conflicts –




We should include women in decision making and peace building more and more. Women have naturally – natural instinct for peace. And you being on a very important position, we expect more and more such effort will be --




SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) we need more peace builders and everyone is capable of helping that. It doesn’t take any money. It doesn’t take any big institutions. But we want to support the work of the people you’re describing because we think it’s important for Pakistan to really work out a lot of its own challenges, among its own people. But we want to be your partner in assisting wherever that’s possible.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Ma’am before your visit and during your visit (inaudible).




Now, during your visit you met different political leaders and you discussed (inaudible). So I just want to know what –




SECRETARY CLINTON: A very good question. And let me say that we discussed in detail the kinds of plans and assistance that we’re offering. I announced that we want to help with electricity because it’s a big problem from what everybody in Pakistan tells us. And the –




We want to also work through plans to help with education and healthcare, to try to get it down to the local level. And we’ve had a very open exchange, because we know that there are many ways that different groups in Pakistan want us to be of help, but we’ve also said that, ultimately, the future of Pakistan is up to the people of Pakistan. And we now have a new democratic government and it needs to be strengthened. Democracy needs to be strengthened so that people will feel confident that their voices are being heard. And I think that’s one of the most important paths that lies ahead of your country right now.


But I believe that the – if the government sets forth a plan as to how to address a lot of the needs of people, we will be a very willing partner. We do not want to come and say, “Here’s what you should do and here’s what you should do.” That is not our place. But if the government and the people, and not just at the national level in Islamabad, but at the local level –




That’s what we’re looking for, because that’s the kind of partnership we think is (inaudible) and it goes to the kind of reconstruction that we’re talking about in Malakand, and it goes to the kind of education and (inaudible) build cooperation on higher education, that has already been mentioned.


But we believe that no plan can be successful unless the people themselves devise it and own it. There have been too many examples over too many years where people come from the outside and say, “Here’s what you need. And here’s what you need or here’s what we’ll offer to you. We are trying to change that. But it requires that the government –




So that’s what we hope for. And I got a very positive response from your government officials. And we’re going to continue to work together.


QUESTION: I’m (inaudible). I’m the chief executive officer for (inaudible). (Inaudible) we are one of the largest employers of people from (inaudible). I’m also the president for the last four, five years (inaudible).




Thank you very much.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. (Inaudible)




And we agree with you, that we were spending and are spending a lot of money that nobody knows we’re spending. And we have put billions of dollars over the last year, but it doesn’t have any real impact. And people can’t see it. It doesn’t have an identification with our country, so many people in Pakistan think we’re not helping at all. And that’s an incredibly frustrating for us, so that’s why we’re changing our aid approach. Because I agree with you, we need to do some things that are highly visible in order to restore the awareness on the part of the people of Pakistan and what we’re trying to work on together. So we will take your ideas on work on them.


I’ve been told that I’m going to have to ask everybody to be a little bit shorter in what you say, so that we can get to everyone. So if we could, I will be short in my answers, I promise. (Inaudible) short in your comments.


QUESTION: Thank you. (Inaudible)




And these are two different things. My next one will be that now the time has come that we have demonstrated that the Government of Pakistan, that we can do things and we can develop –




SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me (inaudible) and we will have meetings with –




I think we should retire inside because it is just too windy, and I see the women covering up from the (inaudible). So I think if we can –




QUESTION: My two questions --




QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you’re most welcome. My mother language is –






QUESTION: (Inaudible.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: So we’re going to go downstairs? So that way, we’re go down stairs and get out of the sun. It’s too – (part 1 ends here)


QUESTION: (Inaudible) collectively is very important. The other (inaudible) is also very important (inaudible). I would say that in Pakistan and Afghanistan there are two (inaudible). One (inaudible) extreme version and one is the modern version. There’s no version (inaudible) and there is no (inaudible) in Pakistan. In Pakistan the moderate version is being represented by (inaudible). Because that’s not a fight we should be fighting for the United States. (Inaudible) a fight which we are fighting for Muslim (inaudible), that we are fighting for the Pakistan, and that we are fighting for the Muslim (inaudible).


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am absolutely thrilled to hear (inaudible). I’ll make three quick comments. First, as I understand what you said and you believe that the President should order 40,000 troops as soon as possible. And is that because you think it will show a resolve and it will break the momentum of the (inaudible)?




SECRETARY CLINTON: The second one, on the scholarship issue, if – I want to come back to you about that, and I’ll have Ambassador Holbrooke and his team and Ambassador Patterson and hers, come back and talk to you about that, because we do want to do something specifically aimed at young people in FATA and in the North-West Frontier Province, so we’ll follow up on that.


Thirdly, we need to turn to you on this ideological struggle. We are not equipped and it would be inappropriate for us to be involved in that in any way. But I think what you’re saying is critically important, because there is an opportunity – after the Soviet Union, when religions (inaudible) and there was an effort to turn away from religion or try to suppress religion, what came out – it’s part of the reason it originated, as I understand the history, was out of a sense that people wanted to live publicly their faith and (inaudible) students was a way of kind of bring out that commitment (inaudible). It became a very harsh form. It became, unfortunately, influenced by foreign thought. But we need your idea – not for now, but maybe (inaudible) – what would be the best way to accomplish the mission you have just described for academics, for imams, for people to be present in Afghanistan to begin talking about the form of Islam that is predominant in Pakistan, which is actually predominant in the world. So would you think about that?




SECRETARY CLINTON: To how that might be done.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. But we will follow up on it.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.) What I would like the (inaudible) engagement in Pakistan (inaudible). But this is our war, but we all have a common enemy. It’s a war of the world (inaudible). But we are fighting it with the blood of our children, our husbands, our brothers, our sisters (inaudible). So the world (inaudible).


And also (inaudible) I would also like to talk about scholarships. I would like to request scholarships for the children of the (inaudible). Another thing also, any future aid that is coming into (inaudible) should be more people-centric projects (inaudible). And also I would suggest public-private partnership. You talk a lot about dealing with the government, dealing with NGOs (inaudible). And development only takes place when the private sector is involved (inaudible). They have to make it happen. If the private sector is not involved and you (inaudible) development is not sustainable. And it’s just very, very short-term because governments come and go. (Inaudible) and the projects should be people-centric. And you have to invite the private sector. And by public-private partnership, I mean, not (inaudible), not the Government of Pakistan, but the private sector and the Government of U.S. directly.


Why shy away from that? Why only go to government and why go to (inaudible)? Because most of (inaudible).


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with completely on the private sector part. You’re absolutely right. And we will look for ways to do that.


QUESTION: And another question also I would like (inaudible). Is why not have media (inaudible)? Media these news is the mass weapon that we have. If we can (inaudible) and talking about (inaudible) development and all, that’s how we change (inaudible).


SECRETARY CLINTON: I agree with that. And we will do more of that. That’s something that Ambassador Holbrooke has been talking about that we need to have different sources of information for the people (inaudible).


QUESTION: And we talked several times (inaudible).


QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I think the major chunk of it should be allocated (inaudible) and FATA, because we are the largest (inaudible). And we need this development.




QUESTION: Please make sure that that happens.


SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll do my best.


QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I’m from (inaudible). We started it seven years ago and we have (inaudible). And the reason I mention that is just to give you an idea of the complexity of this part of the world. (Inaudible.) And most of our focus is on the youth. Our focus is on intergenerational changes. If you look at the leadership of (inaudible). And all of the people that come into these places are 15, 20 years old (inaudible).


So my first question, and the question I have is: What happens to (inaudible)? (Inaudible) what do we do next? Do we go back to the old system (inaudible)? Talk with the young people there and (inaudible). Because one of the things that we’ve come to the conclusion of is that there is intergeneration of (inaudible). There is sort of (inaudible) amongst the young people (inaudible). At the embassy we tried to set up some (inaudible) for Ambassador Holbrooke (inaudible) and Admiral Mullen also.


And I think things like that are important. Because after that meeting, although they were very vocal – some of them – some of the things they said were – I mean, it was a bit of (inaudible). When they came out of the meeting, I asked them, I said, what do you think? (Inaudible.) And they said, you know, we said all these things in there and I didn’t get any sort (inaudible).


AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: This meeting, the group you assembled, young kids (inaudible).


QUESTION: So I think they were (inaudible) voices in and asking them what (inaudible). (Inaudible) very concrete suggestions for what do you do next. (Inaudible.) Also there’s too much of a shock. I think it would have to be a (inaudible) approach into being integrated. So there you bump (inaudible) the elders in this council (inaudible).


Once the money arrives in the agency, you set up a new public sector service (inaudible). Where you populate it with young people, doctors, new teachers (inaudible). They can be part of the mainstream, part of the public sector, and part of development in their own areas. And tomorrow, they will be your elected leaders to come and sit in this council. They will have an understanding of how that (inaudible) works. And the (inaudible).


I mean, sitting in a legislature or making laws, which are (inaudible) because (inaudible). So what’s the point of (inaudible). And there’s never really been communication. (Inaudible.) This is a time to have that messaging (inaudible) to what it actually stands for, what do we want to do, and cooperating on development and trying to (inaudible) of what we see (inaudible), in terms of (inaudible), ethics of what America is. And showing some of the vulnerable sides of the United States, because there’s poverty in America, there are differences of opinion. It’s not (inaudible). We never see that, you know, in terms of (inaudible).


The other thing (inaudible) national level, I think, some people mentioned earlier, is institution reform. We’re (inaudible). And I think that’s something (inaudible). Within the political parties – and you’ve been (inaudible) having more of a democratic process within those parties, bringing in (inaudible) voices, not having them dominated by (inaudible). (Inaudible) to also have a credible (inaudible). (Inaudible.) And I think when young people, like the people you saw in that room, you could feel a kind of (inaudible) expressed themselves, everybody in there wanted to say something (inaudible). If they want to come into the mainstream, how do we get in? I mean, they’re (inaudible). Over 55 percent of our population has (inaudible). What is their sort of thinking about Pakistan? Where does this keep going? They are a bit confused as to what kind of (inaudible) we have.


I think there is another talent here. There’s another (inaudible). There are people who really want to do things, and I think the (inaudible) part (inaudible). All over the world, there’s a huge (inaudible). I think there’s a lot that can happen here. We need a lot more engagement with (inaudible). But the more reaction there is, the more openness there is and the better (inaudible).


I just have to thank you for taking the time and (inaudible). And we’re all very tired from this long (inaudible). Thank you.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you for what you’re doing, very specific kinds of interactions and outreach, particularly with young people, and it’s critical to everything. And I was struck by what you said about how the leaders of (inaudible). And we have to do more in working with your government to get your voices heard within your own government (inaudible). We will certainly raise that.


(Inaudible) thank you all for your patience, for being willing to come back and be with me. I am so grateful to you. And we’re going to follow up on this. I think you know from the work that our ambassadors are already doing, that we really are serious about learning. We can’t promise immediate results, but we really want to have an agenda that will make sense, and then try to begin to work with all of you. So thank you again, very much.


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PRN: 2009/T14-22