Statements by Government Official and Member of Congress about Pakistan
State Department Regular Briefing
Q: On Pakistan, have they responded to your — the clarification that you have sought on Dr. Afridi?
MR. TONER: Oh, about the reasons why was — we’ve not, actually. I sought an update on Dr. Afridi’s case. We’re still seeking clarity on what those new charges — where they came from and what in fact they mean. It hasn’t changed our basic position, which is that we think he’s being unfairly, unjustly held. And, you know, what he did was in Pakistan’s interest as well as our own, which is take down one of the — biggest mass murderers of the 21st century.
Q: Do you have any information on the charges that he had some link to terrorist organization? Because Lashkar-e Islam has denied that he –
MR. TONER: I saw those news reports. Again, you know, we’ve sought clarity on these new charges from the Pakistani government. As far as I know, we’ve not received any – any response. But it doesn’t change our position, which is we feel that he should be set free.
Q: And do you have an update on the negotiations that you are having with Pakistan on How long will you continue to seek clarity while this doctor is under constant threat of being stabbed in prison?
MR. TONER: Well, you know, we’re obviously very concerned about his welfare. It’s something that we’ve conveyed obviously from the highest levels of the — of the State Department. The secretary spoke about this. We also are raising it bilaterally, through our ambassador, Ambassador Cameron Munter, who I believe met with the foreign minister just a day or so ago and raised this issue again. You know, we’re being very clear that we’re concerned about his welfare.
Q: This is — this just –
MR. TONER: Yeah, go ahead.
Q: — this is a guy who’s not an American citizen, who was accused of working for the CIA and was sentenced to 33 years in prison for it. Correct? At least that was the initial story.
Q: That was the initial story.
MR. TONER: — right. Right.
Q: So I’m curious as to why you don’t — and you’re expressing concern. So why are you not expressing concern about this guy — he’s reportedly — was working — who’s not an American citizen, who’s Chinese, who is — who was allegedly working for the CIA in China, has been arrested. Why do you have no comment on that and yet you have plenty of comment on Dr. Afridi?
MR. TONER: I don’t know if I have “plenty of comment” on Dr. Afridi. Our position on him is that he’s being unjustly held. He should be set free.
Council on Foreign Relations – Speaker: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Date: Thursday, May 31, 2012
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): [T]he payback of foreign aid is extraordinary. Two things it gives us. Number one is it gives us influence. Why does anybody in Egypt even care what the U.S. thinks about their future? Well, because they receive foreign aid and military aid. So it’s just — pragmatically speaking, it gives us leverage to influence the way things go in one direction or another. And quite frankly, it’s one of the reasons why we haven’t been able to walk away from our foreign aid commitment in Pakistan. Despite the fact that it’s — we’re really uncomfortable doing it, because if we did that, we’d have no influence over what happens in Pakistan.
Q: Lesley Bain, City. Can I turn your attention to Afghanistan –?
SEN. RUBIO: Mmm hmm. (Affirmative.)
Q; — and pose back to you the same questions: What do we do, when do we do it, the importance of the influence in the region, and does it matter?
SEN. RUBIO: Afghanistan matters. It matters for a couple of reasons. Obviously, it was a — we don’t want the recreation of a safe haven for the Taliban or any radical element to reconstitute itself. We certainly don’t want the — those moving out of the FATA back in Afghanistan and using that as their zone of operation. So it matters for that reason. It matters because we’ve made gains, particularly in the rights of women and young girls and society in that country that we don’t want to see lost. And it matters because of Pakistan, to be quite frank. I mean, we need to be — if we are not in Afghanistan, if Afghanistan is not strong and stable or it has some level of stability and if the U.S. doesn’t have an operational presence there, then our ability to influence what happens in — happens in — happens in Pakistan is limited, particularly when you start to think about, for example, securing the nuclear stockpiles that exist in Pakistan. I bring that up only in this context: I recall during the presidential primaries that — I think it was Rick Perry that was asked, if you get a call at 3:00 a.m. — I don’t know, why is it always 3:00 a.m. — (laughter) — but if you get a call at 3:00 a.m. that Pakistan’s government has fallen and radical Islamists are now in control of their nuclear weapons, what would you do about it? Well, the answer to that question depends on whether — what the situation in Afghanistan is. That’s more likely to happen if Afghanistan goes in the wrong direction. That’s — our options are much more limited if we don’t have a presence there. So it does matter. Our goal in Afghanistan is to create as strong and as stable a government or help them to create for themselves as strong as — and as stable a government as possible. And I think — from our conversations we’ve had, I think we can work out a solution where the U.S. could have an enduring logistical presence there that’s good for the Afghans without allowing us – without forcing us to have a long- term exorbitant commitment in terms of money or people.