Statements by Members of Congress and Government Officials about Pakistan
Date: May 14, 2012
Center for Strategic and International Studies Meeting on “Defining American Interests in Asia: A Trans-Pacific Partnership Speaker Series Event” with Senator John McCain (R –Ariz.)
9:00 a.m. EDT Date: Monday, May 14, 2012
Q: Thank you, Senator McCain. I’m a former World Bank official and former senator from Pakistan. I — Pakistan is a key ally to United States and, in fact, only non-NATO ally. Next week is Chicago Summit. What do you see the role of Pakistan? Thank you.
SEN. MCCAIN: Pakistan is vital to United States national security interests for a broad variety of reasons, including the nuclear inventory that Pakistan has, including the fact that Pakistan’s role in the region is vital, not to mention relations with India. But we have to operate in our relations with Pakistan with the realization that the ISI has close relations with the Haqqani network, and they are carrying out activities that kill Americans. Now, that’s just an assessment that cannot be refuted by the facts, and it saddens me. We were talking earlier, just before this — (inaudible) — one of the gravest mistakes in recent history was the so-called Pressler Amendment, which basically cut off our military-to-military relations, and we are paying, still paying a very heavy price for. I think there are some who would argue that Pakistan is a failed state. I don’t argue that, but I do — could argue plausibly that the politics in Pakistan are very, very unsettled, to say the least. And it is in our interest to have good relations with Pakistan. It is in our interest to aid Pakistan and try to assist them to a better democracy and a lessening of corruption and a severing of relations between the ISI and the Haqqani network. But we cannot force it. If there is any lesson we should have to learn over and over again, we can’t force the Pakistani government and people to change their ways unless they want to. And it’s so disheartening sometimes to see the lack of progress towards a meaningful democracy and rule of law and all the things that we would hope that the Pakistanis might achieve. But whether we are successful in persuading them or not, Pakistan will remain a country that is vital to United States national security interests. I don’t have to draw for you the various scenarios of a breakdown in their government. So I hope we will continue to work with the Pakistanis in every possible way we can, but we must take a totally realistic approach to our relations with Pakistan.
State Department Regular Briefing
12:51 p.m. EDT Date: Monday, May 14, 2012
Q: Do you have any updates on the — on the status of the discussions with the Pakistanis over the reopening of the transit — of the supply routes? The Pakistani foreign minister said this morning that they think that they have made their point now with the shutoff of the — of the routes and — which many are taking to be a suggestion that they’re about ready to allow you guys to start using them again. What is the status of that and is there any update on whether they will be going to Chicago or not?
MS. NULAND: Our team is still in Islamabad working on the land route issue. My understanding this morning is that they have made considerable progress, but they are still working. They are not yet finished with the Pakistanis. I don’t have any further update from what we said on Friday with regard to an invitation to Pakistan from NATO for the — for the summit in Chicago. You heard what Secretary-General Rasmussen had to say, but I don’t have anything further.
Q: And then just on — well, on the talks, who is — who’s got the lead on this? Is it you or is it the Pentagon?
MS. NULAND: My understanding is that –
Q: And so when you say our team, who is that?
MS. NULAND: — is that it’s an interagency team. I believe the State Department is leading it at a technical level, but let me get that for you, Matt.
Q: (Off mic.)
Q: (Off mic.)
Q: Just to follow.
MS. NULAND: Please.
Q: Is — during those meetings, is Pakistan attaching any sort of preconditions before they’re able to open these routes, like levying new taxes or something like that?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I’m not going to get into the substance of the discussion, but we’re having a full review with the government of Pakistan on how this transit system works. And all of the issues are on the table in that context.
Q: And how important is that to the invitation — (inaudible) — Chicago Summit?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you heard what Secretary-General Rasmussen said. He didn’t make a direct link. He did say, however, that this is something that we want to resolve, that we think is important to resolve and it’s important for support for Afghanistan.
Q: And lastly, Foreign Minister Khar this morning said that there will be problems for Pakistan if land routes are not reopened. So has something been conveyed by that interagency team or the U.S. administration to Pakistan during those meetings or otherwise to prompt that kind of statement?
MS. NULAND: Well, I haven’t seen her statement, but I think you know this is an issue that we’ve been working on for a long time, that it’s an issue that is something that we’ve tried to cooperate with Pakistan on for a long time. The secretary and Foreign Minister Khar spoke – I think it was a couple of days before Ambassador Grossman traveled to Islamabad to kick off the whole re-engagement strategy, and it was in that context that we began the formal written negotiations on the GLOC(s). So it’s good news if Foreign Minister Khar is making positive statements about the importance of this for Pakistan, for Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan, for their relationship with us. But as I said, we haven’t yet completed the negotiations.
Q: Just a follow-up, quickly.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
Q: At the same time, she also said — and also the prime minister of Pakistan — that before doors are open, certain demands must be met by the U.S., which were given beforehand. Is there any comments? Or — what are those demands, or if U.S. is ready to move forward?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think I said here that there is a full discussion under way about all aspects of this, but we haven’t yet come to a conclusion on all the — all the pieces.
Q: (Off mic) — something — different one –
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
Q: — related to Pakistan. Do you have any comments or any information that former Pakistan ambassador to U.S., Mr. Haqqani — he’s seeking U.S. citizenship or maybe he has applied for the U.S. citizenship?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information on that. But that, in any event, would be a question for the Department of Homeland Security.
Q: Just going back to the –
Q: (Afghanistan ?).
Q: — negotiations for a second.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
Q: I just — the interagency — you know, one of the demands that the Pakistanis have had for a long time before they would reopen this is an apology to the — you know, full-on, not those kind of half-apology regrets that the — this and previous administrations are so fond of using. Do you know if the team — if there is — do they have the — a power or authority to apologize on behalf of the United States, if that is indeed a Pakistani demand to reopen the supply lines? Or is that issue, as far as you’re concerned, done?
MS. NULAND: Well, the team that’s working on this is a technical team. They are looking at the issues of how you move things from here to there and what the terms for moving them are.
Q: So they wouldn’t — they wouldn’t be in a position to offer an apology if you just –
MS. NULAND: That question is outside their purview. But I think as –
Q: But in — so — OK, regardless of whether it’s outside or inside their purview — and you’re saying it’s outside — but is that issue for the United States done now? Is that — that’s over?
MS. NULAND: I think we’ve said that we very much regret this incident, and we want to move forward, and we want to re-engage. Hello, Nicole (sp).
Q: (Off mic) — Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: Please.
Q: Last week students and parents of Afghanistan urged the government of Pakistan to – as you know, 4 million textbooks of Afghanistan are lying stranded at the Karachi airport after those routes are closed following the November 26th incident. This issue has been taken up by the Afghan president himself, at the highest level, but nothing has met — nothing — no progress has been made so far. Are you aware of the issue and why the children of Afghanistan are suffering because — no fault of theirs?
MS. NULAND: I wasn’t aware of this issue. But it makes sense in the context of the land routes being closed, and it speaks to the larger issue that it’s not just about support for the ISAF mission; it’s about support for Afghanistan in general and, in this case, the children of Afghanistan.
Q Staying on Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: Please.
Q: Any comment on the –
Q: Have you taken up this issue with the Pakistan authorities?
MS. NULAND: On the particular issue of the textbooks, I don’t have any information. But as I said, we are working very hard on the land routes.