Harvard Kennedy School academic Hassan Abbas spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month about US policy in Pakistan following her recent visit, and Clinton offered some fresh ideas on how to counter the spread of militancy there.
Abbas is a senior adviser to the Kennedy School's Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs, and is currently a fellow at the Asia Society in New York on South Asian policy. He also is a former senior Pakistani government official who worked on policing and security in Pakistan, so he brings first-hand knowledge of the crisis in Pakistan as it confronts Muslim extremists there.
Abbas says he was invited out of the blue to interview Clinton for his blog, Watandost., "about Pakistan and its neighborhood." The interview also was carried on Foreign Policy's blog, the AfPak Channel. (The interview took place in mid-December, and sorry that I am only catching up with it now, after a holiday break).
Abbas notes that Clinton visited police stations in Islamabad, and says she was the first foreign official to acknowledge the critical role of the police in combatting extremism, and the need to upgrade the quality of policing. Abbas asks whether the United States would commit resources to supporting the police and reform of law enforcement in the country. Clinton's answer:
"Well, we would be honored to do so, because I agree with you that theAbbas also notes that Clinton visited the mausoleum of Mohammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher who dreamed of creating Pakistan. For Abbas, that underscored the importance of recognizing that the people of Pakistan, not its government officials, will ultimately be the ones to defeat or surrender to extremism. Indeed, there have been recent bloody clashes in the Afghan border region between citizen militias taking on Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.
police truly are on the front lines. They often have to deal with the rush of violence that comes in cities or towns and they don't have the support they need, they don't often have the equipment that they need. And as you say, I met a number of police officers, both in Lahore and in Islamabad, who are very committed, but under-resourced. And I am more than happy to consider any request from the Pakistani Government to help the police force, because I agree completely that they're the front line of defense."
For Clinton, the displays of public as well as government commitment to take on the threat was a sign of hope. She tells Abbas:
"...the terrorist threat to Pakistan is growing and it's intense and it can only be defeated by the Pakistani people coming together and rejecting it, in the first instance, trying to present a different narrative than the one that the terrorists are putting forth, using military force where they must, but mostly by developing the democratic institutions, by developing the country, clearly demonstrating that Pakistan has no room for those who want to tear down, because the Pakistan people want to build."
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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