October 29th, 2009
04:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton questions why Pakistan has not destroyed al Qaeda

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday questioned why Pakistani officials have not been able to capture or kill members of al Qaeda taking refuge in the country.

"Al Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002," she told a group of Pakistani journalists during her trip to the country.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to ... Maybe that's the case," she added. "Maybe they're not gettable. I don't know."

Al Qaeda, she said, has launched attacks on Indonesia, the Philippines and many other countries, "so the world has an interest in seeing the capture and killing of the people who are the masterminds of this terrorist syndicate."

"As far as we know, they are in Pakistan."

Asked to comment on the secretary's statements, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Ann Patterson, who was traveling aboard Clinton's plane, said that U.S. officials have made similar points to Pakistani officials.

"What we often say (is) that, yes, there's needs to be more focus on finding these leaders...They (the Pakistanis) have lost control of much of this territory in recent years and that's why they're in South Waziristan right now and that's where al Qaeda mostly is. So I think they are making a good-faith attempt to re-claim their own territory and go after them, and to re-claim their own territory which has served as a safe haven for these activities throughout the rest of the country for the past few years."

The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, also traveling with Clinton, added: "In terms of the risk to American troops in Afghanistan, what they (the Pakistanis) are doing now is the highest priority....so going after them is something that we have strongly supported."

Secretary Clinton, he said, "has spoken at every public event, she has praised the army for doing this."

In her conversations with the journalists, Clinton said, "I am more than willing to hear every complaint about the United States" and "answer, but also to change where we can, so we that we do have better communication and we have better understanding."

"But this is a two-way street," she said. "If we are going to have a mature partnership where we work together," then "there are issues that not just the United States but others have with your government and with your military security establishment."

"I don't believe in dancing around difficult issues, because I don't think that benefits anybody," Clinton said, adding, "I ask in the pursuit of mutual respect that you take seriously our concerns."

Updated: 4:35 p.m.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Pakistan
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. j-Indiana

    Mrs. Clinton makes me proud to be an American. She is a good representative of our country.

    October 29, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. LacrosseMom


    Brits fought in Afghanistan for 80 years.

    Soviets fought in Afghanistan for 10 years.

    United States has fought in Afghanistan for EIGHT years.

    Are we safer today? No.

    October 29, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. phoenix86

    Only in the liberal mentally challenged universe would anyone think that weakness by a country brings respect from other nations.

    That Mrs. Clinton (who should know better after her husband's presidency) can stomach the Appeasement & Surrender Doctrine (aka: talk softly and carry no stick) shows that she, like Obama, was never presidencial material.

    October 29, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Clive

    Invading and occupying Muslim countries for no apparent reason and America's blind, one-sided support for Israel do not help Clinton's case.

    October 29, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. Frankie, NY

    She sounds like she's in campaign mode! I LOVE her!

    October 29, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Jrad

    Better be nice to America, or we'll bring 'democracy' to your country.

    October 29, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. LacrosseMom

    SO........ war is the answer? Invading sovereign nations will help the U.S. be more secure? War brings respect?

    The ONLY war that has been worth fighting was WWI against the Nazis.

    The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11...... Nor did Iraqis!

    The Bush wars will go down in history as the senseless act of violence they are!


    October 29, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |