Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar have reiterated the U.S.-Pakistan commitment to stronger relations between the two nations, with Clinton thanking the Pakistani government for its efforts to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities in Pakistan.
At a meeting in Washington September 21, Clinton said the video at the core of recent violent protests is “offensive, disgusting and reprehensible.”
But, she added, that does not justify violence, and responsible leaders everywhere have a duty to “stand up and speak out against violence and particularly against those who would exploit this difficult moment to advance their own extremist ideologies.”
Khar thanked Clinton, President Obama and Senator John Kerry for their “very strong condemnation of this blasphemous video.”
“Your condemnation has given a strong message that the United States government not only condemns it but has absolutely no support to such blasphemous videos or content anywhere,” Khar said. “I think that is an important message, and that message should go a long way in ending the violence on many streets in the world.”
The Pakistani official said her country has committed more blood and treasure to fighting terrorism than any other country in the world. “Make no mistake. Terrorists of any type, breed, color, anywhere, are a threat to Pakistan as much as they are a threat to anyone,” she said.
Clinton and Khar said the relationship between Washington and Islamabad during the past year and a half has been a trying one for both sides but working together offers a pathway to achieving the goals of each country.
“We face a common threat from a common enemy, and we must confront terrorism and extremism together,” Clinton said. “Pakistan’s parliament has called for expelling foreign fighters so that Pakistan’s territory can be fully under control of the Pakistani government and cannot be used to launch attacks against other nations.”
“The fact that the two countries braved these last 18 months together shows that we have both a deep understanding of the importance of this relationship … between Pakistan and the United States, also for the goals that we hope to achieve together for regional peace and stability,” Khar said.
Khar said Pakistan and the United States face a “common challenge” to stabilize Afghanistan and a “unique opportunity” to work together to enable the Afghan people to decide their own future and live as a sovereign, independent country.
Clinton thanked Khar for Pakistan’s reopening of the overland supply routes that allow NATO supplies to reach Afghanistan and for Islamabad’s work in bringing together Afghan, Pakistani and U.S. representatives to advance the peace process in Afghanistan.
“The Pakistani government’s public call for insurgents to come forward and talk with the Afghan government was particularly important,” Clinton said.
The secretary of state said the United States and Pakistan agree on the need to shift the bilateral economic relationship “from aid to trade and investment.”
“We hope to finalize a bilateral investment treaty soon, and we’ve created a Pakistan private investment initiative to help more of Pakistan’s small- and medium-sized companies get access to capital,” Clinton said.
She noted that Pakistan’s civilian government has begun to put down stronger roots in recent years, and if elections proceed as planned next year, it will mark the first time in Pakistan’s history that a civilian-led government has served its full term. “The United States supports Pakistan’s economic development, and we have said many times that we want to see democracy succeed in Pakistan,” Clinton said.
Khar said Pakistan is happy to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty with the United States and is even more interested in working toward a preferential trade agreement that would send a “strong message” that the United States is committed to providing economic opportunities for Pakistanis.