Zardari good partner in war against terrorism, says Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Washington, Mar 1: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is a good partner in war on terror, but refrained from giving a similar certificate to the Pakistani military and ISI, who she said have maintained links with militant groups for decades.

Testifying before a Congressional committee yesterday, Clinton said, "I think Congressman, what President Zardari told you on behalf of the civilian leadership of the government of Pakistan is true."

"He has been a good partner in going after terrorism that threatens his country and Afghanistan and our troops," she said while responding to questions from Senator Michael Mccaul.

Denying that US has any proof of any Pakistani high-level officials knowing about the presence of Osama bin Laden, she said, "We have no evidence of any high-level official knowing about bin Laden. But, like you, I have to assume that lower-level people had to have known something. But we haven't proven that. It could be asserted, but not yet proven."

"This is a complicated, difficult relationship. What we are doing now is making it very clear what our expectations have to be going forward. And there is no doubt in my mind that certain elements of the Pakistani government are more ambivalent about cracking down on terrorism than other elements," Clinton said.

"You know, when I sit across from the foreign minister or talk to the ambassador or talk to the prime minister and others, I think they are very sincere. They know that the scourge of terrorism is killing Pakistanis."

Deliberating further, Clinton said, "Zardari knows that terrorists killed his wife. And yet there has been relationship between terrorist groups and the military and the intelligence services for many decades."

"The fact that this democratically elected government has survived longer than any other democratically elected government, is a unique thing. For the first time in the Parliament, you have questions being asked of the military and the ISI. You have the Supreme Court asking questions about actions of the military and the ISI," she told the lawmakers.

"So you see the strains and stresses of trying to have a civilian government in a democracy assert control over all elements of the government. We want to continue to support the democratic trend inside Pakistan," Clinton said.


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