Clinton Defends US
Policy on Pakistan, Afghanistan to Congressional Panel
October 28, 2011
of State Hillary Clinton has strongly defended Obama administration
policies towards Pakistan and Afghanistan during an appearance Thursday
before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Some
lawmakers expressed frustration about continued terrorist safe havens in
Pakistan that are undermining NATO efforts in Afghanistan.
A number of lawmakers grilled Secretary of State Clinton as to whether
the United States is making progress towards achieving its strategic
national security goals in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Republican Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen, said the United States and Pakistan are at a crossroads,
and that Washington cannot sustain a partnership with Islamabad if it
pursues policies that are hostile to U.S. interests and jeopardize
American lives. She said the ultimate disgrace was the discovery of now
deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden living inside Pakistan close to
a Pakistani military facility.
Secretary of State Clinton said she would be the first to admit that
relationships with the two countries are not always easy. But she cited
major successes the United States has achieved.
"Osama bin Ladin and many of his top lieutenants are dead," said
Clinton. "The threat remains real and urgent, especially from al-Qaida’s
affiliates. But the group’s senior leadership has been devastated and
its ability to conduct operations greatly diminished."
The ranking member of the committee, Democratic Representative Howard
Berman of California, said he felt that perhaps U.S. military aid to
Pakistan might need to be re-evaluated, but he said continued U.S.
economic aid is vital.
"It is in our long-term interest to support the continued development of
Pakistan's civil society and nascent democratic institutions," said
Clinton said that during her trip to Pakistan last week she delivered a
clear message to military and civilians leaders that they must act
against the militant Haqqani network.
“I explained that trying to distinguish between so-called good
terrorists and bad terrorists is ultimately self-defeating and
dangerous," she said. "No one who targets innocent civilians of any
nationality should be tolerated or protected.”
officials have accused Pakistan's military spy agency, the ISI of
providing support to the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, which has
launched attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Other foreign policy issues also came up at the hearing. Republican
Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio strongly criticized President Barack
Obama for saying he is going to remove all U.S. forces from Iraq by the
end of this year.
"I am very concerned by the president's recent announcement of a
complete withdrawal by the end of the year," said Chabot. "Fulfilling a
campaign promise at the expense of American national security interests
is at best strategic neglect and at worst downright irresponsible."
Chabot also said he feared U.S. forces may be pulled out of Afghanistan
before conditions there merit it. The United States has about 98,000
troops in Afghanistan and plans to bring most of them home by the end of