“I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” she told a group of newspaper editors during a meeting in Lahore. “Maybe they are not ‘get-at-able’. I don’t know,” she said. … While acknowledging the many bumps in U.S.-Pakistan relations, Clinton nevertheless asked for understanding, patience and commitment, saying her own experience in deciding to join the Obama administration after running against Barack Obama for the presidency was instructive. – Clinton puzzled at Pakistan failure to find al Qaeda
Today Secretary Clinton leveled what has become her signature frankness, this time in Pakistan, which has a headline on the Washington Post website as: “Clinton gripes on Pakistan efforts.” It seems the Secretary is, let’s just say, curious as to why the Pakistanis cannot find Al Qaeda in FATA and other areas of the country.
Clinton was met in Pakistan yesterday by a bomb in Peshawar targeting a women’s market where 80 people were reported killed. She’s had a close relationship with Pakistan going back t Benazir Bhutto, but it’s her first trip since becoming secretary of state. It’s a place she knows and appreciates.
This bluntness from Clinton is something that is uncommon in the Obama administration, which is likely why she gets along so well with SecDef Gates. Others may prefer a more muddled message, camouflaged in vague non-specifics, instead of simply coming out and saying what you mean and what’s on your mind. That’s simply Clinton’s style, a manifestation of who she is as chief diplomat. Coddling our friends, especially those getting billions of dollars, just isn’t her style. She explains why:
“I am more than willing to hear every complaint about the United States,” Clinton said, “”but this is a two way street. If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together” then “there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and with your military security establishment.”
I wonder if it’s appreciated in Pakistan (or in the Administration by some), where Clinton drilled right into the heart of the matter, since not only is the ISI aware of Al Qaeda’s presence, but has had a relationship with the group forever; with the Pakistani Taliban a different breed altogether than what’s in Afghanistan, closely linked with Al Qaeda. Taking it further, because to talk Pakistan you must include Afghanistan as well, the Pakistani government is funding the Afghan Taliban and have been for quite some time. There is no sense in pretending otherwise in public, as everyone knows it.
Al Qaeda is no longer this globally linked network of powerhouse jihadists and they haven’t been for several years. Most experts I talk and listen to press that they’re more opportunistic, if you will, coming into an area of instability or rife with dissatisfaction to take advantage of the situation or any void that may exist. There isn’t a central leader giving orders and likely won’t be again, including in Afghanistan where Gen. Jim Jones (and others) estimate there is “less than 100 operating in the country.” It’s the border sanctuaries and Pakistan that’s the problem, which is why Clinton was so frank. We’re paying billions and blood, so Pakistan’s role has to get out in the open.
“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George Mitchell will hold bilateral meetings this weekend with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas, in the region,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday afternoon on a flight from Lahore, Pakistan.