by editor | May 30, 2012 1:01 pm
Statements by Members of Congress and Government Official about Pakistan
Defense Department Regular Briefing
Q: General — (off mic) — yesterday in an interview that he supports the Senate committee resolution on Pakistan, cutting aid to Pakistan subject to — (off mic). Is that important to you and to your department — (off mic)?
MR. LITTLE: I’d have to go back and take a look at precisely what he said. I’m not sure that’s accurately characterizing what General Dempsey said.
Q: (Off mic) — what is department’s view on the Senate committee because they shouldn’t just put conditions on Pakistan and cutting aid to Pakistan?
MR. LITTLE: I’m not going to comment on pending legislation. But what I can say is that we are very concerned about this doctor who played a role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. I would make the point crystal clear, yet again, and that is that he was not directing his efforts against Pakistan. He was directing his efforts in support of the United States against al-Qaida, and there’s a clear distinction.
Q: But — (off mic) — but do you support the move of the Senate committee to cut aid to Pakistan because he’s — he has been imprisoned for 33 years?
MR. LITTLE: I’m not going to comment on discussions that are ongoing in the U.S. Congress at this point. That’s a matter for the Congress to weigh, and I wouldn’t offer a position of the department at this time.
Q: Yeah — (off mic) — this is what General Dempsey said yesterday — (off mic)?
MR. LITTLE: Again, I’m not going to parse what General Dempsey said. I think he was very clear in his interview in expressing concern about various issues related to the Pakistani relationship. He’s also said, at various points in his public comments, that we believe that we need to work through these issues with the Pakistanis. There are a number of issues, even as we continue to cooperate with them that require us to engage aggressively to try to put this relationship back on track. Jennifer?
Q: But the Afridi family has asked for help from the U.S. government — legal help and possibly asylum. Are there any plans to help the Afridi family and is there any plan to put any further pressure on the Pakistan government to release the doctor? And second, as far as you know, are there plans to now list the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization? Is that something that is imminent?
MR. LITTLE: On the Haqqanis, I don’t have any knowledge myself of moves to place them on a terrorist list. When it comes to Dr. Afridi, the secretary and — the secretary of state made the position of the U.S. government known. And the Pakistanis are well-aware of our concerns. Again, this is someone who was supporting efforts to pursue the world’s top terrorist. He was not stealing Pakistani secrets. He was helping the United States go after Osama bin Laden.
Q: Can you bring us up to date on negotiations to reopen the ground supply (relines?) — man, I mangled that word — supply lines from Pakistan to Afghanistan?
MR. LITTLE: It’s a good question, Jeff, and I’ve mangled those words myself, so don’t worry. The ground lines of communication remain very important, we believe, to reopen. We continue to discuss the possibility of reopening them with our Pakistani partners. We continue to have a team that’s in dialogue with Pakistani officials. We’re not over the finish line yet, but we hope to get there in the near future.
The White House Regular Briefing
Q: Could I ask you about the Pakistani doctor and what the administration is doing on that? Because his brother is saying that he’s been tortured by the Pakistani officials, that he had gone months without seeing sunlight, that they were not feeding him, he was emaciated, that he was tortured. So what is the administration doing to prevent this torture from continuing, and getting him free?
MR. CARNEY: I think what I can tell you, Ed, is what i said earlier, which is that we certainly believe that and know that anyone who assisted the United States in the effort to bring Osama bin Laden to justice was working against al-Qaida but not Pakistan, certainly not Pakistani. We have made our views known that the doctor in question here should not be held, that he did nothing that would justify him being held. And we’re certainly consulting with the Pakistani government on this matter. But I don’t have any other details for you.
Q: There’s no plan B? I mean, obviously you’ve made that case. The Pakistanis still have him. (Inaudible.)
MR. CARNEY: Plan B? I just said that we’re in consultations with and certainly making our views known to the Pakistani government.
State Department Regular Briefing
Q: General Zahir ul-Islam, the new ISI chief — supposed to visit the U.S., but he canceled at the last minute. And some speculation in Pakistan is that the U.S. is interfering in the affairs of Pakistan as far as conviction of Dr. Afridi. So do you have any idea — and some think tanks are saying here that means Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was and now they are caught in the fire of — between U.S. and Pakistan relations. So do you have any comments on this issue now, where the two countries stand?
MS. NULAND: We’ve gone so long that Lach has filed and come all the way back. (Laughter.)
(Chuckles.) Either that or he’s really quick. (Chuckles.)
Q: (Off mic.)
MS. NULAND: With regard to the decision of the new ISI chief to postpone his trip, I’m going to send you to the Pakistani side for what he might have been thinking there. And with regard to Dr. Afridi, I think the secretary was extremely clear last week about what we think about this: that he shouldn’t have been locked up or charged in the first place.
Q: And is the U.S. still trying to pursue the — or permit the U.S. — I mean, Pakistani government to release Dr. Afridi because of humanitarian or wrongful conviction or –
MS. NULAND: We’ve been absolutely clear, publicly and privately, that we think it’s wrong he’s locked up, we think it’s wrong that he’s being prosecuted, and that in fact the role that he played did a service not only for the world and the United States but obviously for the security of Pakistan. This was one biggest killers out there.
ABC “This Week” Interview with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
9:00 a.m. EDT Date: Sunday, May 27, 2012
MR. JAKE TAPPER, ABC: But you’ve talked about — you mentioned Pakistan just a minute ago about the fact that there is a safe haven in Pakistan for insurgents — for the insurgents for the Taliban. This week, the Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. find bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison by the Pakistan government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the arrest was unwarranted. Congress has proposed cutting aid to Pakistan by $33 million, $1 million for each year of his sentence. Realistically, is there anything that the U.S. can do to help this doctor? It certainly seems like this is a shot across the bow, saying anyone who ever helps the United States, you know, the U.S. is not going to be there, and you’re going to be held accountable by your own government.
SEC. PANETTA: It’s — it is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times. This doctor was not working against Pakistan. He was working against Al Qaeda. And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that, because what they have done here, I think, you know, does not help in the effort to try to reestablish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
MR. TAPPER: Secretary Panetta, can we call Pakistan an ally when they do something like this, when they sentence a doctor who helps the United States find bin Laden, who has killed more Muslims than I can count? How can we call them an ally when they sentence this guy to prison?
SEC. PANETTA: Well, Jake, this has been one of the most complicated relationships that we’ve had, working with Pakistan. You know, we have to continue to work at it. It is important. This is a country that has — that has nuclear weapons. This is a country that still is critical in that region of the world. This is a country in which we have to go after an enemy that’s located in their country as we have. So we have to continue to try to work with them. It’s an up-and-down relationship. There have been periods where we’ve had
good cooperation and they have worked with us. And there have been periods where we’ve had conflict. But both countries have a responsibility to work together because we’re dealing with common threats. They’re dealing with the terrorist threat just like we are. They’ve had huge numbers of Pakistanis who’ve been killed by terrorists. So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face. And what they did with this doctor doesn’t help in the effort to try to do that.
MR. TAPPER: And you’ve been in the middle of a very difficult negotiation with the Pakistanis about the lines of transit through which we supply U.S. troops in Afghanistan by using Pakistan and they shut them down after that incident at the border in November. They initially charged about $250 per truck. They are now trying to charge $5,000 per truck. We already give them — the U.S. taxpayer already gives the Pakistanis billions of dollars a year. And now they’re trying to charge $5,000 per truck. First of all, how high are you willing to go in this negotiation? Are you willing to pay more than $1,000 a truck? And second of all, what are the American people to make of this relationship, when they hear about this doctor going to prison, when they hear about they’re trying to charge us, even though we already give them billions of dollars?
SEC. PANETTA: Yeah. No, I — you know, I think the American people are concerned. We’re all concerned about the relationship. And at the same time, as I said, we have to do everything possible to try to work with them in order to protect our interests. And you know, the G-locks, these transit points, are important to us. We would like to be able to use them. But we’re going to pay a fair price. We’re not going to –
MR. TAPPER: What’s that, a few hundred dollars per truck?
SEC. PANETTA: We’re going to pay a fair price. They’re negotiating what that price ought to be. You know, clearly we don’t — (inaudible) we’re not about to get gouged in the price. We want a fair price. We are working right now through what’s called the northern distribution center, which means we’re moving most of our stuff through the north. It’s more expensive, but we’re getting the job done, and they need to understand that we can continue to get the job done that we have to by using that northern distribution route. It would be convenient for us. We would like to be able to use the Pakistan gates, but it isn’t absolutely essential to our completing the mission that we’re involved with.
FOX “Fox News Sunday” Interview with Senator John McCain
May 27, 2012
MR. CHRIS WALLACE, FOX: You were saying just before we came on the air that you see a pattern — in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, with the Pakistanis thumbing their nose at us by taking this doctor who apparently helped to find bin Laden, sentencing him for 30 years in prison treason, that you see a pattern of the other countries sort of dissing the U.S.
SEN. MCCAIN: You have to look at it in its entirety because when you look at one country, you are puzzled. This has to do with a foreign policy led by a president who does not believe in American exceptionalism. So, it began in Iran when we failed to stand up in 2009. In Libya, we, quote, “led from behind”. The war was much longer because we didn’t use American air power. With Iran, clearly, we’re kicking the can down the road. How many times have seen North Korea and Iran in these different negotiations that have taken place? In Afghanistan, obviously, the Taliban believed that we are leaving. In Pakistan, why would they directly insult America by putting a doctor who helped us apprehend and take out the most notorious terrorist in the world and they put him in prison for 33 years. It’s because the Pakistanis believe that we are leaving. This president — have you ever heard the word “victory” come through the lips of this president. We are always talking about withdrawal, withdrawal, withdrawal.
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