Islamabad: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that both the United States and Pakistan needed to do more to battle Islamist militancy. She further acknowledged that the ties between the US and Pakistan had reached a turning point.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad after holding talks with Pakistani leaders, Hillary said, “Pakistan should understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make the problem disappear.”
Hillary and Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as well as Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in the highest profile visit since US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden on May 02.
Denying that the meetings were tense, Hillary said she had heard Pakistan commit to “some very specific action”.
“I return to Washington ever more committed,” to the ties, she added.
“The US and Pakistan have worked together to kill or capture many of these terrorists on Pakistani soil.”
Washington is pressing Islamabad to fully grasp the need to quash Islamist militancy amid tense ties over the killing of the al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad.
On Osama bin Laden
Hillary reiterated that there was no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistan government knew that Osama bin Laden lived in a garrison town just 50 km away from Islamabad.
However, she added that Pakistani officials had said that “somebody, somewhere” was providing support for bin Laden in Pakistan before he was killed by US forces this month.
Hillary has emphasised the need to continue working closely with Pakistan, but her visit to Islamabad, kept secret for security reasons, came as US lawmakers questioned whether Pakistan should be receiving billions of dollars in aid.
Hillary said any peace deal in Afghanistan will not succeed unless Pakistan is part of the process.
The United States needs Pakistan’s help in negotiating an end to the fighting in Afghanistan because the country is believed to have influence over several insurgent commanders.
Hillary acknowledged this, saying “for reconciliation to succeed Pakistan must be part of this process”.
On Thursday, Hillary said working with Pakistan was a strategic necessity for the United States.
She praised Pakistan as a “good partner” in global efforts to fight terrorism, though she acknowledged that the two countries have disagreed on how hard to fight al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban fighters and other militants.
“We do have a set of expectations that we are looking for the Pakistani government to meet but I want to underscore, in conclusion, that it is not as though they have been on the sidelines,” she told a news conference in Paris.
“They have been actively engaged in their own bitter fight with these terrorist extremists.”