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.
GWEN IFILL: You talked to Senator Kerry about the situation on the ground in the region when you were in Washington earlier this week. And it seems almost as if the secretary's visit is a one-two punch in this effort to win the hearts and minds back to the U.S. side.
Is that about right?
MARGARET WARNER: That is about right. And the -- I don't think they're overstating the degree of the problem they have here.
I mean, Pew Global Project did this poll worldwide just in May, and it found that, here in Pakistan, now 70 percent of Pakistanis do see the Taliban as a real threat. They don't support the Taliban any longer. But 64 percent still see the United States as a -- quote -- "enemy."
And, so, there is this deep well of distrust that goes back to when we came in here to help build up the mujahedeen and brought in a lot of money in the '80s to get rid of the Soviets, and then we left. And it's just gone on and on and on.
GWEN IFILL: So, today, she met with President Zardari, the foreign minister, Qureshi.
Tomorrow and the rest of the trip involves what?
MARGARET WARNER: Well, today, yes, she met with the president and the foreign minister, but she also had this very contentious roundtable, for example, with Pakistani TV journalists.
One aide said it was like being in a room with Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck, and Chris Matthews, and they're all shouting and firing questions at you. And she returned it.
You know, there was a big argument about Kerry-Lugar aid bill, which there was a huge backlash against here, which only showed the depth of the anti-American feeling. And she really wants to engage with Pakistani people.
And, so, she's trying to go beyond just the official meetings. Now, tomorrow, she is going to Lahore. And both tomorrow and the next day, though the schedule is being kept quiet for security reasons, she is going to have semi-public events, taking a little bit of a risk, but wanting to engage, really through Pakistani media, to the broader Pakistani public.
So, that's her game plan. And, as long as the security situation doesn't get too terrible, I think she's going to stick with it.
GWEN IFILL: You mentioned the security situation, Margaret. How much does a trip like this have to be planned with that in mind, especially when there are so many things going on, like what we saw this morning in the northwestern part of the country?
MARGARET WARNER: It was already taken into account in the planning of the trip.
For instance, as you know, even though they announced they were coming to Pakistan at some point, the actual date and time was not publicly announced until after we had landed. So, for instance, even though she talked to us on the plane and people could have filed from the refueling stop, everything had to be embargoed. And that was just so there wasn't a convenient time for potential attackers.
The press, we in her press corps had reservations at the Serena Hotel here in Islamabad, sister to the one in Kabul that was -- at least tried to attack today, and we were pulled out of there and put in these sort of windowless I guess you would call them stacked trailers inside the embassy grounds.
So, there have been very, very careful preparations dealing with security. And, at the same time, I'm told she and Richard Holbrooke and her team pressed hard to do this public engagement, and to not limit it to just Islamabad, to get out in the country.
So, as I said, they're going to Lahore tomorrow, which was the scene of a very deadly attack at the police recruiting or training academy. But, you know, she was reminiscing on the plane today about the first time she came here as first lady 15 years ago -- 14 years ago. And it's certainly not that atmosphere now.
She said she and her daughter, Chelsea, you know, walked among people, had all these kinds of outdoor events. And they were with Benazir Bhutto, who, of course, was assassinated two years ago.
So, she will engage with the Pakistani public, but not to the degree that she would have liked.
GWEN IFILL: A different role for her in a different time.
Margaret Warner, thank you.
MARGARET WARNER: Thanks, Gwen.