Interview With Hamid Mir of Geo TV

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Islamabad, Pakistan
August 1, 2013

The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for giving us time. My first question is about your commitment with democracy. The U.S. believes in democracy, U.S. is a champion of democracy all over the world. But why U.S. is not taking a clear position on military intervention against the democratically elected government of President Morsy in Egypt?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s a very appropriate and important question, and I want to answer it very directly. The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence. And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so – so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy. And the fact is --

QUESTION: By killing people on the roads?

SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, no. That’s not restoring democracy, and we’re very, very concerned about, very concerned about that. And I’ve had direct conversations with President Mansour, with Vice President ElBaradei, with General al-Sisi, as have other members of our government. And I’ve talked to the Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, so I’ve been in touch with all of the players there. And we have made it clear that that is absolutely unacceptable, it cannot happen.

Now, as you know, these situations can be very confusing and very difficult. We’re working very hard right now with Lady Catherine Ashton, with various officials, with other foreign ministers of other countries, in order to try to see if we can resolve this peacefully. But the story of Egypt is not finished yet, so we have to see how it unfolds in the next days.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, you very rightly said this afternoon in a press conference with Mr. Sartaj Aziz that the presence of some al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan is a violation of our sovereignty. But in the recent past, in May 2013, the Peshawar High Court have also declared that the U.S. drone attacks are also a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and also declared these drone attacks as war crimes. And the High Court has directed the federal government to ensure a halt to the drone attacks. So would you like to help the newly elected government by halting the drone attacks?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we are very much looking forward to the day when these – any kind of counterterrorism activity, whatever it may be, whether that’s it or we’re doing that or not doing that – we don’t want to be – we don’t want to have to be engaged in counterterrorism, but we are for self-defense. I mean, the only reason that we are in Afghanistan today and the only reason that the United States is pursuing al-Qaida there and elsewhere is because al-Qaida is trying to kill Americans and other people everywhere.


SECRETARY KERRY: So this is a matter of self-defense, and regrettably we’re living in a very dangerous world. And we’re very appreciative to the Pakistani people; we’re very appreciative to the government. We understand the powerful feelings about any of these efforts. But Pakistan faces a very serious threat.


SECRETARY KERRY: Lashkar-e Tayyiba, Tehrik-e Taliban, al-Qaida, Haqqani Network – these people blow people up in mosques. They blow people up in market places. They don’t have a program to build schools.

QUESTION: They use drone attacks as their excuse.

SECRETARY KERRY: They were doing this long before there was a drone, and they’re doing it in places where there are no drones. So let’s be honest here. Blowing up women and children can never be excused, ever anywhere.

QUESTION: Okay. Secretary, don’t you think that the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui can make a very good impact on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m sure that people in Pakistan would feel very good about it; I have no doubt about that. But we have a legal situation that we have to analyze. I don’t – I haven’t even had the chance to do that, to be honest with you. This was not discussed in the course of today.

QUESTION: Nobody from Pakistani side mentioned about --

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, there are people who mentioned it to some of our other people. But frankly, the prime minister and I had bigger, more direct things in a smaller amount of time to talk about. We’re well aware of the issue.


SECRETARY KERRY: We’re well aware of the issue. And I have asked some people to take a look at exactly what the circumstances are. But I know that the offense for which she is serving time is a very serious offense and it’s a very long sentence. So I don’t want to make any promises that can’t be kept.

QUESTION: So Secretary Kerry, Pakistan is facing a big energy crisis. So have you discussed the possible U.S. support in the energy sector in Pakistan?

SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely. We discussed it at great length and we’re very anxious to try to be helpful in energy. We’ve already provided – through USAID, we have provided assistance that has brought 1,200 megawatts of power online, so 16 million Pakistanis are today receiving extra power that comes from the United States.

We have over 10,000 students who are going to schools because America has provided scholarships. We’re building or fixing over 600 schools here in Pakistan. We’re working very hard on energy, other kinds of energy projects. We’re helping to build roads. There are many things the United States is engaged in, which unfortunately a lot of people never hear about. But we’re very proud of that partnership with Pakistan.

QUESTION: Can you ensure that every single U.S. soldier will leave Afghanistan in 2014?



SECRETARY KERRY: No, because not every single U.S. soldier will leave in 2014. And we’ve been very clear about that. We are not withdrawing, we are drawing down. We are reducing the numbers of soldiers, but we will leave people there who will be involved in counterterrorism and who will be involved in training, advising, and equipping the Afghan military.

Now, other nations will too. We won’t be alone. A lot of other nations have already committed numbers of troops to stay, because we’re not going to walk away from what we’ve been involved in now for more than 11, 12 years.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Our time is finished.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

PRN: 2013/T11-07