Deadly Car Bombing Clouds Clinton’s Visit to Pakistan
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GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner is traveling in Pakistan with Secretary Clinton. I spoke with her earlier today.
Margaret, it’s good to see you.
You begin your visit to Pakistan with Secretary Clinton with the news today that about 100 people were killed in Northwest Pakistan today in these latest car bombings.
Has it cast a pall of any kind over the secretary’s visit?
MARGARET WARNER: When Secretary Clinton and the foreign minister, Qureshi, were in a meeting in the Foreign Ministry when the news hit, and we were clustered with Pakistani journalists waiting for them to come out and talk to us, and, certainly, suddenly, the headlines on television went from Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Pakistan to the news of this horrific bombing and the horrible, horrible, just wall-to-wall pictures of it.
But they came out of that meeting and, I would say, incredibly energized. And I think you have got some of what they said. I mean, Qureshi in particular was almost emotional when he said, you know, you can — you’re on the run and we’re going to beat you.
And Secretary Clinton said there and again at this dinner tonight with the president, Zardari, she said, they only want to build — they only want to destroy. We want to build.
That said, of course, her aides are concerned that this message she came, which is we want to broaden our agenda beyond terrorism, fighting terrorism, could be overshadowed by this terrorist act.
And I was talking to one of her top aides just before the dinner, who said, it’s a danger, but we’re still going to pursue our agenda here, because there’s the short-run problem, but then there’s the long-range problem, which is that Pakistan doesn’t work for a lot of its citizens.
And the foreign minister, who was standing there chatting with us, said, and, in a way, this attack helps underscore that point.
GWEN IFILL: When you talk about the U.S. agenda in Pakistan, what is Secretary Clinton’s goal for this trip? Why is she there?
MARGARET WARNER: Well, Gwen, she understands — I mean, she wants and the administration wants to stiffen and strengthen the resolve of the Pakistani government and the Pakistani military to keep up this really quite-new serious campaign against the militants, first Swat, now in Waziristan.
And they have concluded that they can’t do that without, A, broadening the relationship beyond terrorism, because that’s what the Pakistanis want, and, B, addressing the very real anti-Americanism, the distrust about America that exists here among both the Pakistani elites and the Pakistani public.
And, so, she came here with a message that we do want to broaden the relationship. It won’t be the transactional relationship of old, you know, some military aid, in return for supposedly fighting terrorism, that we’re going to help you rebuild your infrastructure. We’re going to start student changes.
It’s this this whole kind of broadening of the relationship. And, at this same press conference with Foreign Minister Qureshi, she announced that the U.S. will put a substantial amount of money into helping Pakistan rebuild or build its very aging electricity infrastructure. This is a country that has 70 percent rolling blackouts every summer.
So, as I said, the question is whether something like that will even get coverage tomorrow. We will have to see.