Interview With Nick Schifrin of ABC News

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Kabul, Afghanistan
October 20, 2011

Please attribute the following content to an interview with ABC News

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for coming.


QUESTION: I’ve worked in this in this region, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for three years. I listened to your press conference today. What is it that you want Pakistan to do? Pakistan says that they cannot or will not take militarily on Haqqani Network. Are you going to propose taking them on yourself?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nick, I think there are three things that we want Pakistan to work with us on. And as I said earlier today, we believe that we have to continue fighting, we have to start talking, and we have to keep building. And so what can they do to assist us and the Afghans in following both – all three of those approaches?

Well, first of all, when it comes to the fighting, there’s a lot they can do. There is no doubt, if there ever were, that there are sanctuaries in Pakistan that are the sites of the planning and operationalizing of attacks against Afghans, Americans, and others.

They’re also the sites of attacks against Pakistanis. Thirty thousand Pakistanis have died from terrorist attacks in the last 10 years. So this is an area that should be one of mutual cooperation. You can squeeze these sanctuaries. Maybe not everyone is susceptible of a military action, although the Pakistanis have taken action against the Pakistani Taliban in the past two and a half years, which we were very encouraged by.

You can do a lot to help us in making sure that they don’t cross the border. You can help us find them when we are looking for them. You can cut off all connections between elements of the military or the intelligence service who provide information and give advance notice – we know for a fact – to certain elements of these terrorist groups. So in the fighting category, there’s a lot they could do.

In the talking category, they can unequivocally state publicly that they want to see the Afghan Taliban and those associated with them, which would include the Haqqani Network, to begin negotiating toward a resolution with the Afghans themselves, and that they will, with us, stand behind that kind of negotiation.

And then when it comes to building, they can be part of helping to create the regional architecture that we’re looking for at the conference in Istanbul in early November and the conference at Bonn in early December, so that they’re part of the international community that promotes economic integration in the region, that understands there has to be security for there to be prosperity.

So I think there’s a lot that we’re going to be discussing when I’m there later tonight and tomorrow.

QUESTION: The Haqqani Network has killed more than a thousand U.S. and allied troops. Why is the U.S. going to negotiate with them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the sad and painful truth is you don’t make peace with your friends. You don’t sit down across the table from people who you already have some kind of an agreement with. We’ve done it in previous conflicts. This now has reached the point, in our opinion, where it’s appropriate to begin talking. But that doesn’t mean we stop fighting. We do both. They certainly are doing both.

And it may be that there are some elements in these groups – the Taliban and the Haqqani – that are not reconcilable, that do not seek anything resolving this conflict that we would accept or that the Afghans should accept. But we won’t know till we try. So part of this is to keep pushing as hard as we can on the peace and reconciliation track to see what comes up, to see whether there is a willingness on the part of any of the leadership of these groups to have a serious discussion.

QUESTION: U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan have said that they have received fire from areas of Pakistan’s – right next to Pakistani military bases or small outposts. They even say that they have received fire from the outposts themselves. Is the Pakistani military an ally of the U.S. army?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve heard those. They deeply concern me. And of course, the Pakistanis claim that they receive fire from the Afghan side of the border. Now, I am sure that that happens, that there is fire from Pakistan positions, there’s fire from Afghanistan positions. How much of it is intentional, how much of it is to send a message, how much of it is in support of the insurgents or in retaliation to what they are doing – we’re trying to sort all that out.

And I know that General Allen has made it a point to talk directly with General Kiyani in Pakistan to say, look, if this is happening, and we have reason to believe it is happening from both sides of the border, it needs to end. And so we need to get to the bottom of it. We have enough problems without having some kind of incident that may be sparked by a mistake. You have friendly fire in conflicts, you have other kinds of miscalculations.

So I think that is manageable. What is not manageable or acceptable are the safe havens. I mean, it’s one thing for a rogue group of Frontier Corps or Afghan police to be shooting back and forth across the border. It is something entirely different for there to be, in settled areas of Pakistan, the headquarters of groups that are directing actions against our troops, that are running operations against our troops, that are killing Americans and Afghans. And that’s what has to stop.

QUESTION: How can you trust the Pakistani military when they have allowed or at least known about those sanctuaries for 10 years or more?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I became Secretary of State, the Pakistanis were not even confronting the Pakistan Taliban. I remember very well calling them out on that, because they were ceding territory to terrorists, which I don’t ever think is a good idea. And they began to take that territory back and to confront the Pakistani Taliban.

They have some concerns about their ability to go into settled areas, which our military planners understand. But what we want is a meeting of the minds that this threat is not just a threat across their border, it’s also a threat internally to them. And if they allow it to continue and fester, it’s going to come back against them as well.

So what we are working on – and I’ll have with me General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and General Petraeus, who of course now is Director Petraeus of the CIA, and other top officials. But we just want to get some clarity. Are they going to share cooperation with us or not? Because our actions will depend upon whether they intend to cooperate or not.

QUESTION: And do you – sorry. And do you trust them (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that goes back to actions speak louder than words. I mean, if we see actions – and we have. I have to hasten to add that we have made specific demands and requests on them regarding certain al-Qaida members and other associated terrorists. We have conducted joint counterterrorism operations.

QUESTION: But not against the Haqqani Network.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Not against the Haqqani Network. And so part of this is to build on what we already do together and expand our understanding of what is necessary for us to do together.

QUESTION: One last question, because I think I’m out of time. For an American viewer right now, how long should he or she who is sitting in America right now help support the Pakistani Government, the Pakistani military, with his or her taxpayer dollars if, in fact, the Pakistani military has been supporting or at least been knowing about these safe havens in Pakistan that attack you in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I take that question very seriously, because clearly our support – both our military support and our civilian support for any nation – depends upon whether we think it’s productive, whether we think it is in the interest of our goals and our values. And for a long time we’ve had – to put it, I think, charitably – an inconsistent relationship with Pakistan, which they remind us of every time I meet with them. They believe that we have abandoned them on several occasions when they thought their security was at risk.

So this is a complicated relationship. And therefore, I think we have to be aware of and even sensitive to how we are viewed, and they need to be aware of and sensitive to how they are viewed. Both of our publics right now are quite hostile to the other nation. Yet at the same time, I make the argument that it would be far better for us to work together, because I believe it will benefit Pakistan and the United States to do so. At the end of the day, that’s a choice that the Pakistanis have to make. And we’re going to see what choice they intend to make.

QUESTION: And if I could, just – I know I’ve got no time, but just one last question. It’s not only about militants crossing the border. Are the materials of the bombs that are killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan also coming from Pakistan? And if so, what are you going to ask them to do about it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think some of them are. I think the so-called IEDs, the improvised explosive devices, are coming in large measure from Pakistan. And I had a very long conversation about this back in July when I was in Pakistan. And I had to explain – and I really think that to some of the leadership of Pakistan, it was something that they hadn’t quite put together before – that an ingredient of fertilizer is a key chemical ingredient in explosives. And we had to learn the hard way after the Oklahoma City bombing and we had to take steps in the United States to be able to regulate and control ammonium nitrate and related chemicals. We even had to figure out how to tag it so that we could follow the trail.

That was all new to the Pakistanis. And so I think they are beginning to take action on that. We just are going to press for even more.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you.

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PRN: 2011/T54-14