Remarks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Following the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue
Secretary of State
FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI: Thank you for coming to this press stakeout. I have had the pleasure of welcoming Secretary Clinton to Pakistan once again, and I wanted to share with you a very productive meeting that we’ve had this morning on reviewing the upgraded Strategic Dialogue that was initiated on the 24th of March in Washington. We had set for ourselves a huge agenda because we had expanded the dialogue to 13 sectors – unprecedented. And the level of engagement that we had foreseen was very detailed. But as the Secretary has learned, that we were successful in engaging in Islamabad in the month of May and June, and all the sectors had detailed discussions here in Islamabad – the U.S. side, the Pakistan side – at the expert technical level.
From the discussions that they had, the Government of Pakistan has prepared a complete document that we’re calling the basic document of this Strategic Dialogue. Now, this document lays down a vision for every sector, a strategy that we have for that sector, what we have achieved so far, what contribution the U.S. can make to that sector through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman, what resources Pakistan is contributing in the promotion of that sector, and what needs to be done, what more needs to be done beyond Kerry-Lugar-Berman. It’s a document, a vision for a long-term engagement. And the beauty of this upgraded Strategic Dialogue is that it talks of health and education, water. It talks about increasing Pakistan’s productivity. It talks about creating jobs. It talks about the people of Pakistan and the people of United States, how they can develop a partnership amongst themselves. It has a long-term vision and this engagement has brought about or sort of given the right place to the bilateral relationship, which is an old one, because we felt that because of the situation in Afghanistan, there was too much focus on the trilateral engagements we were having, and the bilateral side of our relationship was being subsumed. But I think with this upgraded dialogue that has been addressed very successfully.
And the message is that United States and Pakistan are friends and partners regardless of other interests that we have. We have an independent bilateral relationship. And through this dialogue, we are going to promote and strengthen that relationship.
We’ve also agreed today – and the Secretary will give you details of what she proposes to do. But it’s no longer talk. It is implementation phase. It is action oriented. And these maps that are in front of you are some reflection of what we intend to do in different areas, how we have shifted the focus from terrorism, security-related issues, to the productive sectors of Pakistan – energy, water, agriculture. So we have agreed to the next round of our dialogue. That will take place in Washington in October and give everybody an opportunity to give an overview of their sector. And I think it was a very, very useful engagement.
And thank you for your time for that, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Qureshi, for your leadership of this important partnership and especially of the Strategic Dialogue. I’m delighted to be back in Pakistan. Last night, I had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Gillani and President Zardari. We discussed a number of the challenges and opportunities facing our two nations and the steps that we are taking together to address them.
This morning, I joined Foreign Minister Qureshi for the second meeting of the elevated and expanded U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. And I want to thank the foreign minister and his colleagues in the Government of Pakistan not only for hosting today’s session, but all of the hard work that has been done between our first meeting in March in Washington and this session and the results that we are reaching together.
Since we convened in Washington in March, our countries have made excellent progress. Every one of our 13 working groups have held high-level meetings here in Islamabad in the past three months. This morning, we heard detailed updates of the progress that these groups are making across a range of the critical issues that we have identified after extensive consultations.
As Foreign Minister Qureshi and I expressed to our colleagues, it is critical that we maintain this momentum. We must continue to engage in our substantive discussions and then we have to move beyond those discussions to make concrete, measurable progress toward our mutual goals of improving the lives of the people of Pakistan. To that end, I was pleased to announce a series of significant programs that the United States will be undertaking in several key areas, including water, energy, health, agriculture, and economic growth and employment.
All of these programs were made possible by the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which tripled our non-military aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over five years. These projects are evidence of our commitment to broadening and deepening our strategic engagement with Pakistan, not only with the government but most particularly with the people. Our final measure of success will not be in how often we convene our high-level meetings like this one we held today, but how much we contribute to real and lasting progress.
These charts demonstrate the next phase of our work together. The first one talks about the signature energy programs here in Pakistan. I announced this initiative when I was here in October. Since then, we have been working with our Pakistani colleagues to identify the specific areas. Here in the middle are the water programs. I have to confess to you, water was not originally on our list. But after meeting with so many Pakistanis in October, not only government officials but so many others in the different settings I was privileged to be part of, water moved to the top of the list. Water and electricity, over and over again, were mentioned as the needs that the Pakistani people wished to see addressed.
So this last chart here, it lists – and I hope that members of the press will come up and take a look at it – it lists not only our water projects and our electricity projects, but also health projects and education and information. And right there in the middle is the new agreement for the export of mangos. And I have personally vouched for Pakistan mangos which are delicious, and I’m looking forward to seeing Americans be able to enjoy those in the coming months.
So the United States will continue to stand with the government and people of Pakistan. We will stand with you in the fight against the violent extremists and terrorists who target innocent people and some of Pakistan’s most treasured cultural and religious sites. And we shared the anguish and the terrible despair that struck so many Pakistanis in the aftermath of the attack on the Data Darbar shrine. We extend our condolences to the families of all those who have been lost in these attacks that are so vile and so dismissive of the rights of the people of Pakistan to lead their lives and to see their future and the future of their children take shape.
We’re committed to building a partnership with Pakistan that, of course, strengthens security and protects the people of Pakistan, but goes far beyond security. We want to help you drive economic growth and prosperity, strengthen your democratic government institutions, expand access to the tools of opportunity. And we’re very grateful to our colleagues led by Foreign Minister Qureshi under the leadership of both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani to really get in depth with the kind of candid, open conversations that should take place among and between friends and partners.
I look forward to the next meeting of the Strategic Dialogue in Washington in October, and I thank everyone who has contributed to the progress that is visually displayed here today. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The minister and the Secretary will take a few questions. May I first invite Mark Landler of New York Times, please.
QUESTION: Good morning. Thank you very much. A question for both of you: Despite your commitment to opening a new era in Pakistan-U.S. relations and despite the rollout of these American projects illustrated in the maps, public opinion in Pakistan still views the United States and the motives of the U.S. Government with a considerable amount of suspicion. My question is: Why isn’t the American message getting through better?
And then a second question for Minister Qureshi if I may: The Obama Administration is in the process of considering whether to place the Haqqani Network on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. If the U.S. were to take such a step, do you worry that it would complicate efforts by both the Afghans and the Pakistanis to achieve a political settlement that would bring the war to an end? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mark, I have to begin by saying that I think we are making progress, but I recognize the long road ahead. I said on my visit here last October that there was a trust deficit between our governments that had to be addressed, and that we needed to get beyond rhetoric and beyond the emphasis on security to the kind of in-depth discussion that these dialogue – this dialogue is presenting so that we can take action together. Because obviously, actions speak louder than words, and we are moving into the action phase.
That’s what these projects represent. We want the people of Pakistan to know that we consider our relationship to be one of enduring commitment. I am well aware that in Pakistan’s history, since the founding of the state – Pakistan and I are the same age – and I know that during that time, there have been periods of closeness between the United States and Pakistan that often ended with the people and Government of Pakistan feeling as though the United States had not continued to show the same level of commitment. Earlier today in the dialogues, the finance minister, Minister Shaikh, very briefly summarized the periods of closeness in the ‘60s and the ‘80s, the beginning of this century, which often were around periods of war – the Cold War, the struggle against the Soviet invasion of Russia, the post-9/11 period.
What I am trying to do and what President Obama and I have made clear will be American policy – what the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act and the new financial commitment represents – is that we are looking to establish a much broader, long-lasting foundation of collaboration and assistance that will truly assist the people of Pakistan to make the kind of progress toward peace and prosperity that they yearn for.
So we know that there is some questioning, even suspicion about what the United States is doing today. And I can only respond by saying that very clearly, we have a commitment that is much broader and deeper than it has ever been, that we expect to start seeing results. It is bipartisan, it is both of the Executive Branch and the congressional branch in our country, and we are going to continue to work to achieve very tangible results of this new high-level engagement.
FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI: To respond to you, sir, opinion about the U.S. and Pakistan will change when the people of Pakistan see how, through this partnership, their lives have changed. And in this dialogue, we are focusing on projects, on sectors that would make a qualitative difference to the lives of ordinary Pakistanis. So they understand that this relationship is beyond security. This is a relationship that improves our purchasing power, our quality of life, and then a different message is understood.
Of course we have to communicate better. Of course realizing the difficulties that we’ve had in the past, now there is a new public diplomacy effort into the dialogue. It’s been sort of weaved into. We have a set – we have – one of the sectoral engagements is about public diplomacy so that the message reaches the right place. And then on the issue of – about the different networks and the efforts of reconciliation, United States, Pakistan are agreed with the rest of the international community to the targets set by us at the London conference. We have a very broad, very clearly identified direction today. And after the revision of the strategy by the Obama Administration, I think the objectives and the targets and the goals are very clear, and whether it’s reconciliation or reintegration.
And today, Pakistan and Afghanistan’s situation is dramatically different. We have improved our relationship. And what you saw yesterday was a reflection of a renewed confidence that Afghanistan has in Pakistan and Pakistan has with Afghanistan. So this will make the difference.
MODERATOR: Yes, (inaudible) please.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the elected president of Afghanistan has given – been given the mandate by his people in the loya jirga to speak to the Taliban for others who oppose him. After that, you said in your interview with the BBC that you are going to now announce the Haqqani group as a terrorist group. What took you so long, Madam Secretary?
And another question: Do you have the figures, the numbers of the Afghans who have died or been killed in Afghanistan? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are supportive, as Foreign Minister Qureshi just said, of the reconciliation and reintegration efforts undertaken by President Karzai and the Afghan Government. We have made it clear that we think reconciliation cannot succeed unless the insurgents, who have been fighting the Afghan Government over the last several years, recognize the importance of renouncing violence if they wish to enter into the political system, renounce al-Qaida, which remains at the center of a syndicate of terror across the world, and agree to abide by the constitution and the laws of Afghanistan.
It seems to us that there will be some who are willing to meet those conditions and others who are not. And we would strongly advise our friends in Afghanistan to deal with those who are committed to a peaceful future where their ideas can compete in the political arena through the ballot box, not through the force of arms. And there are those who will never be reconciled, and we hope that they can be defeated because they pose a continuing threat to Afghanistan and, by extension, to Pakistan. The loss of life of Afghan civilians and of Afghan soldiers is too high. The loss of any life in Afghanistan, whether it be Afghani or American or any other contributor to Afghanistan’s freedom, democracy, and stability is too high.
But we have made it clear we will stand by Afghanistan as they pursue a peaceful path. We hope that their reconciliation and reintegration efforts can bear fruit. But we stand ready to continue to assist them in their efforts against the Taliban and the havoc that they cause in the way that they intimidate and attack innocent Afghan people that really undermines the prospects for the peaceful outcome that I know President Karzai is committed to.
MODERATOR: Mr. Jay Solomon of Wall Street Journal, please.
QUESTION: Thank you. This question is for both of you. Secretary Clinton, today, you outlined the push to help Pakistan meet its energy needs, but at the same time, I know the State Department is concerned about an impending sale of nuclear reactors from China to Pakistan. What message are you telling the Pakistanis about the U.S. position on this sale? And how are you sort of marrying the desire to help Pakistan’s energy needs, but these concerns about proliferation and the nuclear question?
And for you, Minister, as well, what is Pakistan telling the U.S. as far as its plans of going ahead with this purchase of nuclear reactors from China? And what does Pakistan need to do to get greater support internationally for its use of nuclear technologies? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jay, we are constantly talking with Pakistan about its energy needs, including the role for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We believe that the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which has recently met to examine the sale that you’re referring to, has posed a series of questions that should be answered, because as part of any kind of transaction involving nuclear power, there are concerns by the international community. Pakistan knows that. We’ve conveyed them. Other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group has conveyed them. And we look forward to the answers to those questions that were posed at the meeting just recently held in New Zealand.
FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI: The energy needs of Pakistan are obvious. The people of Pakistan are facing outages, six to eight hours in the urban areas and 10 to 12 hours in the rural areas. Our economic growth has been impacted. Our agriculture production has suffered on account of that. So this government, under the leadership of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani, have set forth a very clear target on bridging the energy deficit.
Now, how do we propose doing that? We are doing it through an energy mix. We are tapping on the indigenous sources that we have – that’s coal. We are trying to undertake new hydro projects because there’s a huge capacity for hydro generation. We are looking at other sort of renewables like solar and wind energy. And we are sort of making advances there.
We are trying to make our existing system more responsive and more efficient, and of course, in this mix, there is a component of nuclear energy. Pakistan has 35 years experience of generating nuclear energy. And fortunately, and because of the precautions that we have taken and the systems in place, there has been no untoward incident.
Now, this is part of our bag, but our policy on nonproliferation is very clear. And in the nuclear summit that we had, which was led by President Obama in Washington, Pakistan’s position was very obvious and very clear and endorsed by the international community that how Pakistan’s program is not only safe; it is responsible. So I see there is – there should be no fear on that account. And these projects that we intend to undertake will be open to IAEA inspection. So we will satisfy the international community and their concerns and we will address them to their satisfaction.
MODERATOR: Last question for Mr. (inaudible), please.
QUESTION: Well, Madam, in your opening remarks this morning, you mentioned about differences between United States and Pakistan, and right now, also you mentioned about trust deficit. Would you like to elaborate a bit? And tomorrow, there is an international conference being convened in Kabul a bit about that.
Mr. Qureshi, you also, in your opening remarks particularly, mentioned about unbiased energy cooperation. I would also like you to elaborate that. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. I’m very positive about the state of our relationship because I think we have moved beyond either a standoff of our misunderstandings that were allowed to fester and not addressed to a position where we are engaged in the most open dialogue that I think our two countries have ever had. And I believe that is what friends and partners should do.
So I find the progress that we’ve made together with the Government of Pakistan, a democratically elected government that has demonstrated its willingness to tackle some of Pakistan’s hardest problems, doing what’s been done in economic reform, doing what must be done in tax reform, dealing with the energy shortages – these are difficult problems. And I am very pleased and impressed to see the leadership of the Government of Pakistan tackling these hard problems.
At the same time, the United States has had to ask ourselves, how can we be a better partner, how can we provide more support for what the people and Government of Pakistan are trying to do on their own. So of course, there is a legacy of suspicion that we inherited. I’m well aware of that. It is not going to be eliminated overnight. It is, however, our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the United States is concerned about Pakistan for the long term and that our partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies.
That, of course, is a paramount concern because when people are dying because they go to worship or they go to shop, that is something that should offend the conscience of all people. And so of course, we will stand with Pakistan as you pursue this very difficult struggle against those who would take innocent life and attack the very foundation of the state of Pakistan. But in order to broaden and deepen our relationship, we’ve gone far beyond security. As both the minister and I have said, we are looking at 13 separate sectors. Now, one might ask, what does exporting mangos have to do with security? Well, probably not very much, but any time we can put people to work, open markets, create more opportunity in Pakistan, that in and of itself is a good thing. And it is something that the United States is committed to doing.
So I see progress. Maybe I see it from a closer position than many of the people in the country do as yet, but we are committed to this. I am personally committed. And we are going to stay the course and do everything we can to help create the kind of future that the people of Pakistan deserve.
FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI: I quite agree with what the Secretary of State has said, that both of us are carrying the baggage of history, and we recognize that. Despite that, we have agreed to engage in a meaningful manner, and not just talk to each other. We are listening to each other. And there’s a big difference in talking to each other and listening to each other. The difference is we are listening to each other.
Now, we have our interests; they have their interests. We have our concerns; they have their concerns. The agreement is that we have to respect and be responsive to each other’s interests and concerns. I can say this with confidence that the convergence of interests that we have today, whether it’s democracy or women empowerment, institution-building in Pakistan, fighting and defeating extremism and terrorism and other areas is much more than ever before. And that is why this relationship is now becoming a partnership.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
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