Anita Joshua

U.S. rushes to clarify “do more” statement

America on a damage control exercise

ISLAMABAD: For nearly a week now, the U.S. has been on a damage control exercise vis-à-vis Pakistan; clarifying time and again that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's “do more'' statement had been misinterpreted and reiterating Washington's appreciation of Islamabad's role in the war on terror.

On Friday, the U.S. embassy in Islamabad — already dealing with considerable amount of animosity locally because of the impact of its war on terror on Pakistan — released the transcript of her joint appearance with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai at the U.S. Institute for Peace but headlined it “Secretary Clinton Encouraged by Pakistan's Resolve, Emphasises Sustained Cooperation” to clear the air. The full transcript was preceded by extracts in which Ms. Clinton clarifies the comments made by her in the CBS News channel's show “60 Minutes”.

In those interview — days after Pakistani-American Faizal Shahzad was picked up for the abortive attempt to bomb New York City's Times Square — Ms. Clinton had said while Pakistan has been cooperating with the U.S. in its war on terror, Washington wants more and “we expect more”. According to her, “We've made it very clear that if — heaven forbid — an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be severe consequences.”

She also said some Pakistani officials know more about Al-Qaeda and the Taliban than they admit. “I'm not saying they're at the highest levels, but I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is.”

Since then, the Americans have been clarifying; first it was Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley and then U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke. Though all these clarifications have been in response to questions, their main contention was that she had been misinterpreted. For her part, Ms. Clinton — in the interaction at the U.S. Institute for Peace — softened her “severe consequences” statement by elaborating that the U.S. fears the consequences of a successful attack that can be traced back to Pakistan because “we value a more comprehensive relationship”.

As for her Pakistan must “do more'' statement, Ms. Clinton said that while the U.S. was encouraged by the way the Pakistani government and the military had shown willingness to go after the terrorists in the past one year, “we think that there is more that has to be done”. Further, she stressed the importance attached by the U.S. to the strategic relationship it is developing with Pakistan and underscored the fact that interactions have been expanded beyond the counter-terrorism agenda.

Ms. Clinton also acknowledged the effort that is being put in by Pakistan to provide information to U.S. teams investigating the Times Square bombing attempt. “The investigation is going well between our two investigative bodies.”