Statements of US Government Officials about Pakistan
Date: April 9, 2012
State Department Regular Briefing
Q: President Zardari of Pakistan — he took a mission, what he called in Delhi and also at this (religious ?) — (inaudible) — is that his mission is for peace between the two countries and forget the past, whatever we have done. But the new chapter will start between the two countries' relations. And both agree now that they will work at the highest level, including prime minister –(inaudible, background noise) — visiting Pakistan on the invitation of President Zardari. So what is the future of this relationship goes as far as the U.S. is concerned? This was a — moreover adiplomatic and religious mission for peace.
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, we are very pleased that Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Zardari had a chance to meet in New Delhi yesterday and that Prime Minister Singh has accepted President Zardari's invitation to visit Pakistan in the near future. As we have said for a long time, we believe that expanded and improved engagement between these neighbors are not only going to help the neighbors, they're going to help the entire region and provide opportunities for millions of citizens in the neighborhood to live in a more secure and stable region. So we applaud we trend, we hope that India and Pakistan continue to build on this progress, and we look forward to more such meetings.
Q: Do you have anything further to add on the Siachen tragedy? And did Pakistan — you sent nine — the U.S. has sent nine experts to help in rescue efforts and search. And has an effort been made to send — are more experts being sent, or has Pakistan asked for more help from the United States?
MS. NULAND: This is with regard to the avalanche –
MS. NULAND: — over the weekend or early — at the end of the last week. At the request of the Government of Pakistan, the USG did deploy an eight-man U.S. military alpine search-and rescue team from Kabul to Islamabad. They arrived yesterday. The team is currently in Islamabad, has not yet deployed to the region. We're discussing with the Pakistani military how best they might be used. But we stand by to assist, and to my knowledge we haven't had any additional requests from Pakistan.
Q: I have a follow-up — another question, different matter. The Center for Constitutional Rights, based in Washington, D.C., says that a lawyer who represents drone victims in Pakistan isn't being given a visa by the U.S. embassy to come attend a conference on drones in Washington later this month. He says that he has not received any reply from the U.S. embassy. And his name is Shahzad Akbar, and he represents drone victims in Pakistan.
MS. NULAND: I can't speak to an individual visa case. I'll send you to our embassy in Islamabad for an update on that one.
Q: Maybe this might be better directed to the Pentagon, but do you have any more details on this deployment of an eight-man search- and-rescue — I mean, the Pakistanis actually invited U.S. military into their country?
MS. NULAND: Yes. Yeah.
Q: Oh, so it's OK, then, for them to do that and tell you to — you know, just give you the short end of the stick? And I mean, how did they get there? Did they fly in in their own helicopter or plane?
MS. NULAND: I don't know how they got in. They — this was obviously a humanitarian request to a horrible situation — avalanche. And –
Q: Well, it's very nice of you to — considering how nice they've been to you lately; it's very nice of you to send your troops there. You sure that they're safe?
MS. NULAND: Well, we felt it was — we felt it was important to respond to their request. As I said, they haven't left Islamabad yet, but they're ready to help.
Q: Are they — is their presence there at all covered by the parliamentary review of the relations between the two countries? Is this — we're going to make a special exception so that these guys, it's OK for them to come in?
MS. NULAND: My understanding is that the Pakistanis asked for this specialized help, that we made them available. And we are delighted to have them help in any way they can.
Q: Just a follow-up of the avalanche tragedy, which, in a way, their deployment there is a result of the India-Pakistan conflict. And you have been very vocal in the recent past about better relations between both countries and — (inaudible) — willingness that they should try to resolve their issues. Could you also play a role in trying to reach a diplomatic and political settlement of the Siachen conflict?
MS. NULAND: Of the Kashmir conflict?
Q: Siachen conflict.
MS. NULAND: Oh, the Siachen conflict. Well, we have made clear to both India and Pakistan that we are prepared to be supportive in any way that might be helpful but that primarily, we see this being settled by dialogue between them.