Interview With Farrukh Khan Pitafi of News-1 Network

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

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for talking with us.

SECRETARY KERRY: Nice to be with you. Thank you.

QUESTION: Sir, first of all, I just wanted to know one thing: U.S. has done more for Pakistan than most of its allies put together, and Pakistan has sacrificed more for the relationship – and I’m now talking about the last 10 years – than a lot of other countries. Tell me – still, it is believed the relationship is transactional and there isn’t that kind of respect in the relationship. How optimistic are you about a reset in the relationship that will bring respect to it?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m very optimistic. We had very good meetings today. I’m very grateful to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his welcome today and his serious conversation. We had a very broad, all-encompassing conversation.

And I would say to you the relationship is not transactional, in fact. Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, which had $7 billion over the course of five years, was not transactional. We did that in order to help the people of Pakistan. More students are involved in the exchange program, Fulbright Program, here in Pakistan than any other country in the world. That’s not transactional. That’s lifelong. Those are people who get a lifelong education experience and, hopefully, a relationship with the United States. There are many other things.

So I think it’s very unfortunate that people think it is, but it is not transactional. We want a strategic partnership. There are lots of issues. There are – one of the largest diasporas of people living in the United States of any country come from Pakistan.

QUESTION: Right, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: And they care about their homeland, they care about Pakistan, but they care about America too. We’re bound together, and that’s not transactional. So I think people need to focus on the realities of this relationship.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much for actually putting it that (inaudible). I had another question regarding our close relationship, that ever since President Obama has been elected, he has not been able to visit Pakistan. He has been to the region, but Pakistan was missed. How soon can we expect – what – can we expect at all that he’s going to visit Pakistan?

SECRETARY KERRY: I think the President would love to come to Pakistan, but he just hasn’t been able to yet. I think that, as you know, there are more countries that he hasn’t been able to visit than he has, because that’s the nature of the presidency. It’s very demanding, it’s very difficult; he’s had enormous challenges at home, and has had less chance to travel than some presidents because of that.

So I’m confident – I know this myself – he wants to come at some time. I’m confident he will. But he’s very happy to welcome Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to come to the United States and meet with him there sometime in September or October, and hopefully after that we can figure out when in the future he could visit.

QUESTION: In an interview to Al Jazeera in 2010, you said that U.S. is not going to abandon the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now that we are talking about a drawdown and we are talking about mainstreaming of the Taliban, I just wanted to know when the drawdown actually completes, what kind of checks and balances are you going to leave behind to ensure that the Taliban do not relapse into their old selves?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re going to leave enough American troops and other troops to be able to do counterterrorism and to be able to continue to train, advise, and equip the Afghan military.

Now, the Afghan military today is about 350,000 people. And even if you took it down to 250,000, that’s a lot of army. That’s big. And they ought to be capable of defending Afghanistan in the future, and we will obviously still be helpful advising and equipping and training and doing counterterrorism, and we hope to cooperate with Pakistan very closely in doing this. I think between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States and our allies, there’s plenty of ability to be able to count on security for the future.

QUESTION: Sir, since whenever a Secretary of State has come to Pakistan, they have always talked about cross-border infiltration as well. That is amazing, because Pakistan and Afghanistan don’t have any formal border at this moment. At least the Afghan side doesn’t agree to it. Can there be any American role in formalizing what is called Durand Line so that --


QUESTION: -- we don’t have that kind of problem hardening it?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, you know what? That’s a really good question, but it’s a big enough question that I think what we need to do is first end the war, resolve the crises, and then we can focus perhaps on the border issues. This is not the time for me or anybody else to tackle the Durand Line, this and that – we have big enough problems without picking that one.

QUESTION: Right, sir. Regarding India and Pakistan, you earlier had spoke about the relationship in your press talk as well. Just wanted to know, since it seems that when it comes to regional issues, their disagreements, Pakistan and India’s, usually create a lot of problems. What exactly can the U.S. do to facilitate a peace process between the two countries?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m glad to tell you that I think your Prime Minister is very focused on trying to improve relationship with India, and he’s already reached out. I was in India a few weeks ago. I think the Indians are very interested in having a better relationship with Pakistan. There’s no reason in the world that the two countries can’t do more in trade, lower the tariffs, lower the barriers, increase trade, and I think you’d find a lot of other issues would begin to even out much more easily.

QUESTION: Right, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: So my hope is that there’ll be a significant easing of the tensions --

QUESTION: Between the two countries?

SECRETARY KERRY: -- between the two countries.

QUESTION: I am told that we are left with one minute, and I have one more question to ask.


QUESTION: And you are believed to be a great friend of Pakistan in this country. Just wanted to know, there’s considerable curiosity whether you are going to run for the president in 2016. How do you --

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, no. (Laughter.) I have no plans to run for anything. I have plans to try to finish out this job, which ends in 2016, and I have a lot of work to do between now and then.

QUESTION: You are not thinking about a run in ’16?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I’m thinking about 2016 because then my job ends and I have to find a new one. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Right, sir. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. All right.

QUESTION: And we are praying for a speedy recovery of Mrs. Kerry.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

PRN: 2013/T11-08