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A Pakistani Journalist’s Three Questions for Hillary Clinton

New America Media, News Report, Hamid Mir Posted: Oct 30, 2009

Editor’s Note: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Islamabad was marked by deadly attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir met with Clinton in Islamabad. Mir is executive editor of Geo TV in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - I got a chance to meet Hillary Clinton during her official visit to Pakistan. On the evening of October 28, I met with Secretary Clinton at the residence of the U.S. ambassador. I was one of six TV anchors invited for a candid conversation with the secretary of state. She was very concerned about the bad image of her country in Pakistan and she said that "we must listen to each other and we must be honest with each other.”

I asked three short questions. I expected straightforward honest answers.

My first question was about the rule of law. I referred to the Kerry-Lugar Bill in which the United States expresses its desire for the rule of law in Pakistan. I humbly asked why then are U.S. officials breaking Pakistani laws again and again in Islamabad? I informed her that four U.S. Marines were arrested at 3 in the morning of October 27 in Islamabad with illegal weapons in their hands. They were released within one hour of their arrest. I asked who ordered them to patrol the streets of Islamabad? Would she allow armed Pakistani soldiers to patrol the streets of Washington, D.C.?

Clinton said that diplomats enjoy immunity and they can carry weapons. I informed her that diplomats do not come out on the roads at 3 o’clock in the morning. "I will look into this matter,” she replied. I was not satisfied with her answer.

She told us that the United States wants a strong and vibrant democracy in Pakistan. I asked why, if she cared so much about democracy, the United States did not care about the unanimous resolution of our new parliament against American drone attacks? I said, "Instead of listening to the voice of democracy coming through our parliament, you have increased drone attacks which means that you have no respect for our democracy." She just said, "We have to win the war against terror and we have to support democracy in Pakistan.”

My third question was about the United States’ desire for civilian control of the security establishment of Pakistan as expressed in the Kerry-Lugar Bill many times. I asked, “Do you want a civilian to head ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence service)?" She never said no but explained that the United States can have a head of CIA. who can be a civilian or from the military. “You can also have a head of the ISI from the military or a civilian,” she said. The answer clearly suggested that the United States wants a civilian to head Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency.

Hillary Clinton is a fascinating woman. But I felt she had nothing new to tell us. There are questions that are burning in the minds of common Pakistanis. If she is really concerned about the bad image the United States has in Pakistani minds, she must give clear and honest answers to the questions Pakistanis have.

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