Battling the “legacy of suspicion” with which Pakistan views any American overture, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday described her country's present engagement with Islamabad as an “enduring commitment” that would outlive the war on terror.
While announcing a slew of people-oriented projects for Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman economic assistance package as testimony to the U.S. commitment towards its frontline ally in the war on terror, Ms. Clinton, however, raised questions about Islamabad's nuclear deal with China and refused to mediate on Kashmir.
At an interaction with Pakistani citizens, Ms. Clinton made it clear that the U.S. was not interested in mediating on Kashmir, and India and Pakistan would have the resolve the issue through talks.
Earlier at her “joint press stakeout'' with Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, she indicated that the U.S. had raised its concerns with Islamabad over the nuclear deal with China.
Asked how the U. S. proposed to “marinate'' its concerns about the deal with Pakistan's energy requirements, Ms. Clinton said: “We are constantly talking with Pakistan about its energy needs, including nuclear power. We believe the Nuclear Suppliers Group has raised a series of questions, which should be answered. In any such transaction, there are concerns and we have conveyed them to Pakistan as have others.''
In a bid to allay fears about the deal, Mr. Qureshi — without going into its details — said: “These projects that we intend to undertake will be open to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection.”
The issue, according to agency reports, also came up at the public interaction where Ms. Clinton had to field a question on why the U.S. was ready to provide nuclear technology to India but not to Pakistan.
Stating that Washington was beginning the intensive discussions that were necessary to evaluate Islamabad's request, she said there were some issues that need to be addressed at first, particularly Pakistan's objections to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Pakistan is alone in raising objections and people are asking “why,” she said.
On her second visit to Pakistan as Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton's focus was to show that Washington was engaging with Islamabad not just to further its strategic considerations. Admitting to a trust deficit, she said: “We need to get beyond rhetoric and security concerns. Actions speak louder than words and these projects [that she had unveiled at the second round of the elevated and expanded strategic dialogue] represent the action."