Hillary Wears the Pants in the Obama Family When it Comes to Pakistan
Hopefully today’s remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tell more about the state of mind in the Obama Administration regarding Pakistan than the President’s earlier hints that the U.S. may negotiate with elements of the Taliban.
From the New York Times coverage Clinton’s appearance before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:
… “I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists,” Mrs. Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee as she responded to questions on an array of topics. …
… Moreover, Mrs. Clinton said, the deterioration of security in nuclear-armed Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”
After accusing the Pakistani government of caving in to the Taliban, Mrs. Clinton went on in more scathing detail. “If you talk to people in Pakistan, especially in the ungoverned territories, which are increasing in number, they don’t believe the state has a judiciary system that works,” she said.
“It’s corrupt, it doesn’t extend its power into the countryside. So the government of Pakistan, however it is constituted, which is of course their business, not ours, must begin to deliver government services.”
Otherwise Ms. Clinton warned, “they are going to lose out to those who show up and claim that they can solve people’s problems, and then they will impose this harsh form of oppression on women and others.”
Secretary Clinton is hitting the nail squarely on the head. A Frontline World documentary last week told a gripping tale of the Taliban’s growing influence outside Pakistan’s Northwest Territories and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Earlier this month, Pakistani President Asaf Zardari essentially ceded control of the Swat Valley to the Taliban in order to get the Islamic extremists to cease violent raids in the area. Radical clerics in Pakistan are already exhorting their followers that Swat is only the beginning.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I know negotiating with the Taliban – a la Zardari – is not the answer. Going from backwater Afghanistan under Taliban control to nuclear Pakistan under their thumb is not progress.