WASHINGTON: (Agencies: 22/4/2009) – US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton warned that Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state, is in danger of falling into, what she called, terrorist hands because of failed government policies and called on Pakistani citizens and expatriates to voice more concern. Clinton was speaking in an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
Earlier this month, Pakistani President Ali Zardari signed a law implementing Islamic law – or Sharia – in the Swat Valley region as part of a deal to end a two-year Taleban insurgency there. Taliban militants meanwhile have taken control of a neighboring district, less than 100 kilometers, from the capital, Islamabad.
In her first congressional hearing since being confirmed, Clinton told the panel the chief goal of the Obama administration’s strategy is to defeat al Qaeda and prevent it from returning to Afghanistan.
She told the panel that the administration simply cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by, what she described as, a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state.
But Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, told CNN that the situation is not as dire as Clinton seemed to describe.
Haqqani compared concessions made to Taliban by Islamabad to the deals U.S. commanders in Iraq made to peel insurgents away from Islamic jihadists blamed for the worst attacks on civilians there.
"We are open to criticism of that strategy, but to think that that strategy somehow represents an abdication of our responsibility towards our people and towards the security of our country and the region, as described by Clinton, is incorrect," he said.
The presidents of both Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan – where international forces are battling the Taleban – are due to come to Washington for talks next month