Transcript: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Obama – Discussions on the New Strategy
Transcript by Federal News Service, Washington, DC.
FREDERICK KEMPE: Gentlemen, you’ve attracted a crowd. Good afternoon and welcome to this ambassadorial discussion at the Atlantic Council. I’m Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. We’re delighted to welcome Ambassador Husain Haqqani of the Embassy of Pakistan and Ambassador Said Jawad of the Embassy of Afghanistan. And we’re also grateful that you’ve all taken the time this afternoon.
Ambassador Haqqani, I’m delighted to note, made his maiden public appearance as ambassador at the Atlantic Council some months back and since that time, you’ve won the great respect of everyone you’ve dealt with here in Washington. And since then, as you know, Ambassador, we’ve established our South Asian center at the Atlantic Council with its director, Shuja Nawaz, underscoring the importance that we give to the issues of your region, not just at the moment, but in an ongoing and permanent manner.
The first report of this new center – cochaired by Senator Kerry and our new chairman of the board, Senator Hagel, has received broad notice and attention. I believe there are copies outside the room; there are also copies on our Web site, acus.org. So it’s personally a pleasure to see you again here, Ambassador Haqqani, as we’ve known each other back to the early days of my work at the Wall Street Journal, when I was already relying on you when you were an even younger man than you are now – for you expertise and guidance.
I won’t take up time here reciting your CV except to say that beyond being a highly respected professor if international relations and a thinker and intellectual, you have had a distinguished career in government during which you’ve served three prime ministers, and of course in particular, the late Benazir Bhutto.
Afghanistan as well is lucky to be so well-represented in the United States. Said Jawad, before coming here in 2003, played a number of crucial roles in his country for President Karzai, including chief of staff and press secretary and was critical – and I’m not sure which is actually the more difficult of the two tasks – and was critical to formulating and managing the strategies and policies for rebuilding the country and its institutions and did some quite notable work, particularly in the ministry of defense.
Like Ambassador Haqqani, Ambassador Jawad is a gifted and published writer, thinker and lawyer; fluent English, German and French speaker. So I can’t imagine having before us two more articulate interlocutors, and I also can’t imagine a more historic moment to have two such interlocutors. Our subject is timely. Just two weeks ago, the Obama administration unveiled its new strategy for helping Afghanistan and Pakistan and defeating al Qaeda in the region.
The Obama administration’s call for an enhanced engagement of states in the region – the regional approach – and stronger support for Pakistan in particular, parallels the recommendation of the Atlantic Council’s report on U.S.-Pakistan relation, which we released in February, as I said earlier. We warned that without immediate and significant sources of aid and assistance like those suggested by Senators Lugar and Kerry, that Pakistan could run the risk of state failure, which would have a dramatic impact on Afghanistan and regional and global security.
One of the suggestions of the report was that a total of four to $5 billion from the U.S. and other sources should be given, which would be above the Kerry-Lugar proposals with about three billion going to economic and social sectors directly. Ambassador Haqqani, I see you have been speaking lately about a Marshall Plan, which I look forward to hearing you speak a little bit more to us. It comes quite close to what we were calling for ourselves.
We also called for an additional $1 billion of fresh and/or redirected funds to go to the security forces – military and law enforcement – with special emphasis on strengthening the Pakistani police force. I’m not going to go into any more detail here – I’m going to leave that to you. But I really wanted to set the context here, because very often in Washington, what happens is we put out this kind of initiative, it becomes the most important thing in foreign policy the Obama administration is doing and then everybody in Washington – the pundits and the pontificators talk about it, but we forget, is it actually going down well in the region?
Is it actually working in the countries where it’s intended to work? And that’s why we want you here and that’s why we don’t have more of the pontificators and Washington usual suspects, but we have the two of you to give us the view of how this will get support or buy-in of your countries and neighbors in the region, because if it doesn’t, the Obama plan has very little chance of success.
So with that, I’m going to start with Ambassador Jawad. Each of the two ambassadors will offer roughly 10 to 15 minutes of their thoughts on the challenges of the new Obama strategy after which we’ll have a Q&A. Before I do that, I just want to say one other thing, aside from providing my thanks to Shuja and his deputy Jeff Lightfoot for this timely event. I also want to tip my hat to another one of the key players on our Pakistan taskforce – Shuja and Harlan Ullman were both on that taskforce. And thank you also, Harlan, for being here today. Ambassador Jawad, over to you.
AMBASSADOR SAID JAWAD: Thank you very much, Mr. Kempe. Ambassador Haqqani, dear friends, Mr. Shuja Nawaz, again, it’s a pleasure being here. Thank you very much for providing me with this opportunity to speak here and be once again here at the center that has proven to be a great supporter on keeping the attention and focus on Afghanistan and the region. I will be relatively brief on my remarks.
To give you a very quick background information, seven years ago, with the rapid collapse of the Taliban, excessive optimism was created. At the same time, the war in Iraq distracted attention and resources from Afghanistan and therefore, our state-building efforts in Afghanistan remain uncoordinated, ad hoc and with excessive emphasis on building and creating parallel institutions with less substance and less sustainability.
So subsequently, the Afghan war (either ?) lack proper coordination of all the civilian, military, national and international actors. On March 27, President Obama announced the new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan with the clear primary objectives of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan and to prevent their return to Pakistan and Afghanistan – as indicated by the president in his speech.
We have very much welcomed the new policy and in particularly – thank you, thank you very much. The Afghan government has welcomed the new strategy, and we are particularly in favor of the attention and the resources that are being allocated to increase the size and the capabilities of the Afghan national army and police force and also more resources to enhance the capacity of the Afghan government to deliver services and to provide protection to our citizens.
And we think that the new strategy rightfully places the challenges that Afghanistan is facing in the regional larger context – something that we’ve been arguing in the past seven years. And also, we have demanded and we are seeing also a change in the management of resources and more focus on aid efficiency, although that part was not covered in detail in the speech of the president. But the white paper and the strategy provide the guidelines on that that is very crucial to make sure that every dollar that you send to Afghanistan is used efficiently and there is accountability on both sides for the aid money.
And to build a clear consensus, again, for the first time, the (new ?) administration called upon our officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan. They came here and there were a series of very constructive bilateral meetings with our friends in Pakistan, bilateral meeting with the U.S. and trilateral meetings with all three of us involved and affected by the threat of terrorism.
And we are particularly grateful to Secretary Clinton, General Jones, Bruce Riedel, Ambassador Holbrooke and others to include our views and perspective in the strategy – particularly on the issue of the regional aspects of fighting terrorism and extremism in our part of the world. I will briefly tell you that what were our point of view when we had those meetings – and these are still valid concern and point of view that we have. Most of them have been reflected in the new strategy.
The first thing that we – of course we were asking – was an improvement in the quality and the quantity of the U.S. and NATO troops coupled with building the capacity of the Afghan national security forces – the Afghan army and the Afghan national police force, which is the most sustainable and the most cost-effective way of providing security in Afghanistan primarily and also hopefully one day in the region. We are pleased and welcome President Obama’s additional troops that are going to Afghanistan and his commitment particularly to increase the size of the Afghan national army initially to 134,000 from the 75,000 ceiling that was set forth back and the number of the police force to 82,000.
However, using any kind of counterinsurgency formula – military formula – and considering the composition of the terrain in Afghanistan – comparing it with Iraq, for instance, Afghanistan will need at least 400,000 security forces that will include 250,000 army and 140 to 150,000 police force, under the current security threat – I emphasize that – under the current security threat. So for those who are arguing about the sustainability, we can have separate discussions on that. The fact is, as long as we have the current security threat, all of us are paying for it. The Afghan national army, the Afghan national police force – it’s not the luxury they were asking force.
I hope one day we will enough security in Afghanistan that we will demobilize everyone in Afghanistan – get rid of the entire army and police force. We don’t have this option. The alternative – those who argue about the sustainability of the Afghan security forces should be reminded that right now, you are paying with your blood and treasure in Afghanistan by sending your sons to fight for us, to fight for your, to fight for the safety of Europe – not you – NATO and other countries.
So there is – the most sustainable way is to create this capacity in us. There is not shortage of courage or manpower. There is a shortage of skills that you can create in us to fight this war for us, for you, for our friends and our brothers in Afghanistan. It’s the same trick. The young child that is dying in Swat Valley is no different from the young child that is dying in Kabul or Kandahar or in London and Madrid or New York. We are facing the same enemy all over.
The second issue that we’ve asked was for additional resources to enhance the capacity of the Afghan government to deliver services and provide protection for its citizens. After the defeat of Taliban, as you know, inadequate emphasis were placed on building the capacity of the government and building the Afghan state institution. But where you have made investment and you have partnered with us properly – such as the Afghan national army, the healthcare situation, where it’s increased from 8 percent to almost 87 percent of the Afghans are now covered under basic healthcare coverage – mostly due to your assistance and support and the leadership that our ministry of health provided.
Same thing – the NSP program – one of the most successful programs implemented – the National Solidarity Program, due to the resources that we received initially from Europeans and World Bank and now you are also coming forward to help us out. So where you have made investment and worked closely with Afghans, we have impressive results. In the areas there has not be investment – the areas that we have not received the attention and resources such as police, we are lacking behind.
The third issue that we have asked – and it is for the development – that development projects should be tailored more to the needs of the Afghans and also particularly that national and local priorities in Afghanistan should be respected when these programs are affected. We ask for a particular attention for the Afghan agriculture sector, which has been, unfortunately, neglected for a long time. And we appreciate very much that the agricultural center in Afghanistan will be receiving attention under the new strategy.
Fourth, we ask for the problem of terrorism and the solution to it to be viewed in the context of the region. We know and Ambassador Haqqani agreed with me that we will not succeed in this war – we will not have peace in Afghanistan, stability in the region and security in the world without the sincere cooperation of Pakistan. This is a requirement and fortunately, we have actually two elected leaders – civilian governments in both countries – that are working very closely with each other.
The degree of the mutual trust and engagement between the two leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan is unprecedented in the history of Afghanistan. We have never had such a close relation at the very top level between the civilian leaders. That degree of engagement and trust between the civilian leaders must be matched with deliveries by the Pakistan security institutions. That gap could be bridged with the support of our friends in the international community, who are also a main stakeholder to what’s happening and taking shape in this part of the world.
The fifth issue, we are very much in favor of setting very clear parameters on negotiating and engagement with Taliban. If needed, we can discuss this later so it would – I don’t want to have to take up too much of your time. But that’s an important issue – that we should clearly define who are the Taliban, who do we want to talk to, to what extent we are ready to make concessions because there’s a lot of actually both domestic and international constituencies in Afghanistan and Washington and Europe that are interested and focused. And I can discuss this in detail if needed.
The sixth part and important for us is making fighting narcotics as part of a mandate of fighting terrorism and counterinsurgency. Combating narcotics is fundamental to a state-building process in Afghanistan. Simplistic strategies, seeking for silver-bullet solutions or a magic crop will not work. We have to be very clear about that. This is a long-term undertaking that requires development, institutional building, law enforcement. Excessive emphasis has been made in the past on eradication.
We think that the most effective way of fighting narcotics is to prevent cultivation. Once it’s cultivated, it’s too late. If you eradicate the poppy fields, you push the farmers into the hands of the terrorists, narco-traffickers and spoilers and many others. If you don’t eradicate, the proceeds of the opium will go into the coffers of the narco-traffickers and terrorists also. So here – how can you prevent cultivation is by providing an alternative to the farmers. No on in the world wants to be a criminal – in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world.
If you give them an option, no one chooses to be illegal. But if they have to feed their family, they will take whatever risk to do so. So if you give them a dignified option – and that dignified option is access to credit, build a market for their products – we don’t have to introduce another magic crop in Afghanistan. People have been farming there for 2,000 years; they know what to grow.
They need better access to the market. For the best pomegranate that they produce, they need a juice facility or for the grape, actually, some other. Adding value to the existing products – that’s absolutely necessary in order to fight. Since there has been a lot of discussion about narcotics in Afghanistan, I just add another sentence to that issue that we should keep in mind that where the Afghan government is present and in control, poppy fields are absent.
Five provinces in southern Afghanistan produces 91 percent of the poppy – five provinces where we have most of the fighting. Just the province of Helmand produces 66 percent of the opium in Afghanistan. This one of the most challenging provinces that we have. We have Taliban infiltrations, fighting going on and more than 7,000 British soldiers are trying and fighting very hard to secure the province. So there is a direct correlation between the presence and the control of the Afghan government and the poppy field.
The other issue that I would like to discuss, because it is coming up also in the media a lot – it’s the issue of corruption, another serious challenge that must be addressed – primarily by the Afghan government. We understand our responsibility on that regard. We are working very hard; in the past 10 months, we have arrested over 600 high-ranking officials in Afghanistan. That will continue. We need – they need actually the assistance to build the proper institution to proceed on that.
And the police force – the judicial system – was neglected for a very long time. We have to rebuild this. And those who are – I see a lot of faces who are familiar with Afghanistan very much know exactly what happened with the reform of the judicial system and the building of the police force in Afghanistan. We are paying a price for that right now. However, corruption is a system of bad governance; it’s not the cause of the bad governance or week governance.
And the real challenge in Afghanistan is lack of security on the countryside. The real challenge is terrorism. Corruption does not lead to terrorism. No one will wear a suicide belt and carry out hand grenades Serena Hotel in downtown Kabul because he was asked for $5 bribes in the municipality. There is a system that creates these kinds of killers, that produces these kind of terrorists.
So as I mentioned, the new strategy includes most of these provisions. Now, on the actual implementation, which is very important for us, we are very much look forward. Our – my suggestion is that it’s very important to have a very comprehensive strategy, but from the lessons learned in the past in Afghanistan, it’s equally important how much resources you will allocate to implement it.
So for the success of the strategy, two points are crucial: resources – and here again, are we going to do what we can in Afghanistan like we did in the past, or are we going to do what we must? Do we have to add a limited resources – amount of resources, and we have to deal with it and fix the police and the army and pay the teachers and work on the reform of the education system, health care, or we will commit ourselves together with our European allies and others to do what we should on the short term – to me because heavy investment up front in order to relieve the pressure on your soldiers who are fighting very bravely to defend our country, your freedom, European security. If you build this capacity, if you do what we must up front and make this investment quickly, we will – absolutely – we will be able to relieve this pressure on you. And all the indications are that the new administration is focused to acquire this.
On the issue of coordination, of course there are – we cannot resolve it by having another conference here – another conference in Afghanistan. We will be able to resolve the issue of coordinations if we are ready to be coordinated. And on that issue, I think another significant change in the new policy is that – the new policy is recognizing that – what you have been saying for a long time – that these different partners around the table in Afghanistan are bringing different degrees of the financial and military capabilities and different degrees of political will and commitment. We should be realistic about that. One of our partners coming from Romania, as much as we appreciate their military contributions, but to expect them perform like Australia is unrealistic.
So the new strategy is seeking to create a synergy between these different degrees of commitment and capabilities that exist, and we very much welcome that. There are certain things that the Europeans can do more of or better if they cannot provide the troops or the helicopters that is needed.
And, again, emphasizing that – a lot has been accomplished in the – (inaudible) – system. Six million children are going back to school in Afghanistan. Five million refugees have returned. There are a number of very successful programs that have been implemented with your support. NSB (ph) is one of them.
And the Afghan people overwhelmingly support your presence, your assistance and the Taliban – the vision the Taliban provides is isolation, terror, and tyranny. We know exactly what Afghanistan would look like if they returned. Every Afghan knows that. The reason that they are not more actively supporting the presence in the military term of the international community because they are not sure of your staying power and our ability to protect. That’s why it’s very crucial to stay very clear from defeatist, from minimalist, and statements that indicates that – continuously we see this statement that we are not winning in Afghanistan. Well, if you are not winning in Afghanistan, that implies the Talibans are not losing. If they are not losing, then why they should talk to us? So it’s very important that the public message also be crafted very clearly, and we should look at what’s been accomplished and where you started seven years ago.
And one last item that, again, it’s been discussed in the media – I’d like to make it clear – a discussion about imposing Jeffersonian democracy on Afghanistan. Nobody has asked that we impose democracy on Afghanistan. Democracy by its nature cannot be imposed. However, we have no option, we as Afghans and our international partners. But to prevent the imposition of terror and tyranny, and the imposition of terror and tyranny is only possible if you build a pluralistic society.
Afghans are very pragmatic. Those who have claimed that this country is tribal and institution – they are wrong. They should look at the 1960s in Afghanistan, functioning parliament, women working in the public sector, women serving as senators, as member of the parliament, as ministers back then. Afghanistan has a history of institutions. And the way to prevent the collapse of the system in Afghanistan is to build a pluralistic society. This is what Afghan demands, that’s what Afghan deserve.
So thank you very much. I would like to – I’m sorry if I went on for a few minutes over my time, but I’m grateful for this opportunity. Thank you.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Ambassador. I’m going to ask you one quick question, and then a quick answer. I know it might require a longer answer, but we can get that more in the discussion. But one quick – before I turn to Ambassador Haqqani – a New York Times piece this morning would almost give us the feeling – and you’ve spoke about it in your speech – almost give us the feeling that the police is broken beyond repair. Is that right? And if so, what does one do specifically now about that.
AMB. JAWAD: Very good question. If you read The New York Times article today and if you go back and read The New York Times articles seven years ago about the Afghan army, a lot of similarities. I was back then the chief of staff, more than three – probably 300,000 people claimed to be part of the Afghan army, most of them militias – undisciplined, unpaid, and everybody thought, oh, it would be impossible for this country to build a professional army, and what you are going to do is just 300,000 – most of them were ghost soldiers; they didn’t exist. They put their name to collect.
So for those who have been in Afghanistan know exactly – these are repeats that some – these are repeats of a lot of the scenarios. We build a professional army in Afghanistan. We got rid of the so-called 300,000 corrupt or ghost soldier that claimed to be soldiers. We can do the same thing with the police. The reason that we are facing the challenges that we face in Afghanistan with the police forces that in the past seven years only about 60 million euro has been invested by the European – who are the primary responsible for building the army – Germans primary on building a police that was completely destroyed.
The articles in The New York Times forget to mention that the police-to-population ratio in Ghazni province is 0.5 by a thousand population. The police-to-population ratio in Afghanistan is two police officers for one thousand people. In the United States, it’s five police officers – much orderly society, not facing the threat of narcotics to the extent that we do and terrorism and others. So we don’t have the police force. We agree we don’t have a capable police force.
And what are you going to do now? We should do exactly what we did with the Afghan national army. You partner with us, you give us the resources. We will produce a very capable institution like we did –
MR. KEMPE: And we start from scratch?
AMB. JAWAD: Unfortunately yes. And we appointed a very capable minister, Minister Atvar (ph) who knew of our committing more resources.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you very much. Ambassador Haqqani.
AMBASSADOR HUSAIN HAQQANI: Thank you very much, Fred. I should actually pick off on your question, but you started by saying that, you know, there was an article in the paper that talked about how the Afghan police was broken beyond repair. And I felt like saying certain – certain newspapers in this country and their ability to report effectively on what’s happening in the world is also broken beyond repair. (Laughter.)
The other day I went to speak in Jacksonville, Florida, and somebody stood up and asked me a question based on a recent story in the same newspaper that you cited, which was titled, “Can Pakistan Be Governed?” And so I reached into my pocket. Unfortunately I don’t have that card in my pocket today but I had it that day. I took out and I started reading out the headlines from the same paper going back to 1988 about Pakistan, and the number of times that failure for Pakistan was predicted. It had headlines like government on the brink of collapse, economic teetering, militants rising, radicals about to take over, will the nukes fall into their hands – all the way back to 1988.
And I said to the audience that that reminded me of the scene from one of the “Godfather” movies where Michael Corleone is talking about his ex-friend Hyman Roth, and somebody says, oh, he’s sick these days, and he turns around and he says, oh, Hyman, he’s been dying from the same heart attack for the last 20 years.
So I would be a very careful – I would measure these things very carefully. We have these days a surplus of reports on Pakistan. Every significant Western country has appointed a special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I was joking with Ambassador Jawad yesterday that we should seriously consider appointing a special representative for special representatives, and do a report on all of the reports on our respective countries. (Laughter.)
The fact that there are challenges cannot be denied, but then we must also understand the challenges in some contexts. And the United States – I love the United States; it’s a great nation. Some people in my country sometimes criticize me for living this country very much. It’s a great country built on the idea of making changes, bringing changes. It’s a nation that has accomplished a great deal in two centuries. It’s a fix-it nation; it’s a can-do nation, but there is a problem there, and that problem is that it creates the attitude that the world is a problem for Americans to fix.
The reality is that the world is a situation for Americans to understand and deal with, and so you can’t fix things. The last time you went into Afghanistan to fix something, it was the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979. And of course the solution at that time – again, there were many reports – and most of the audience is so young they probably don’t remember what happened in 1979. I’m old enough to remember it.
And in 1979, there were similar reports and similar assessments, et cetera, and the solution proposed at that time was we’ll go into Pakistan, we’ll help Pakistan’s intelligence service, which was a strategic intelligence service at that time – did not have an enormous covert operations capability. We’ll just dump resources there, make these people, train people who will become the mujahedeen. Anyone remember the word “mujahedeen” anymore. They were the mujahedeen.
And so the mujahedeen were the good guys and they were going to bring the Soviet empire down and they did. But then the United States in 1989 walked away and now 20 years later, we are talking about how to fix Afghanistan and Pakistan again. So my request would be please don’t try to fix us. We are nations with history. And Afghanistan and Pakistan go back many, many centuries. We have much in common culturally, ethnically, religiously, historically, and we will work together to resolve the issues in our region.
The positive thing about the AfPak strategic review is that the – the administration in the United States has adopted a comprehensive approach. They have understood that there is no military solution to the problem of extremism and terrorism alone, that there will be a military component, there will be a political component, there will be a socioeconomic component. That’s the first positive. The second positive is that they understand the regional inter-linkages of the problem. So they understand that they need to work together with Afghanistan, with Pakistan, and possibly with other countries in the region.
And the third thing is that there is a willingness to put resources, and a willingness to make a commitment for sustained engagement. These are the positives. But other than that, there are many things that are essentially in need of modification, and we hope to engage with our friends in the United States to help modify the understanding that we think is just touches things at a superficial level and does not go deep enough.
And among the areas we think where a greater detail – attention to detail is needed is that making a sustained commitment also requires making a sustained commitment of resource, and the amount of – the resources that are being committed may look big to some, but really, frankly, I think that somebody who – a company at the verge of failure is quite clearly able to get a bigger bailout than a nation that is being accused of failure. And I think that that is something that in this town people need to review. Why does Afghanistan or Pakistan get less resources allocated to solving a bigger problem, solving which will have longer-term implications for the security of the United States and the world than, say, for example, some failed insurance company or some car company whose real achievement is that they couldn’t make cars that they could sell.
So I think it is something that has to be understood and reviewed. I think Congress needs to revisit the numbers. They need to relook – take a second look at what they will – what they are willing to provide and under what condition.
Second, I think that it is important also to understand that both our Afghan brothers and we understand the need for accountability. Anybody who writes checks has the right to have some system of accountability in place. But at the same time, there’s a difference between accountability and intrusiveness, and I think that that is something that needs to be understood. Afghanistan and Pakistan are both proud nations.
I can certainly speak for Pakistan. Pakistan is willing to consider and understand the need for accountability for every resource that is allocated to Pakistan. But at the same time a distinction needs to be made between accountability and intrusiveness. The president of the United States said recently that there would be no blank checks for Pakistan. And our foreign minister very rightly said that Pakistan will neither accept blank checks nor will it write any. And so Pakistan will negotiate over every detail of commitments that are made to Pakistan, and we would like to do them in a way in which the assistance and aid that is given to Pakistan brings real value in terms of changing the lives of our people and strengthening our security capabilities.
And of course while we appreciate the partnership of the United States and all of the Western nations and the nations that are right now not necessarily in the best of economic situations but who basically are much better off in the world, we would like them certainly to understand that they need to make resources available. They need to help out with addressing the problems, social and economic, as well as security, but that they should – this is from trying to micromanage the internal affairs of either country.
Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan can be micromanaged from Washington, D.C., You can have big-picture ideas, you can have a strategic outlook, but you certainly cannot have micromanagement of domestic politics. I think that there needs to be some consideration, a reconsideration of the idea of involving all of the regional powers. I think that it is much better for us to be able to engage bilaterally with the various regional powers instead of trying to create a new institution mechanism which could run into some kind of logjam because there will be too many people with too many ideas.
In fact, between 1979 and 2009, one of the reasons we have so many problems in Afghanistan and in the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan is because too many external actors got involved. Al Qaeda is an external actor. Al Qaeda is not something that is indigenous to either Afghanistan or Pakistan; these are people who came from outside. They came with outside ideas. They came with the intention of fighting the godless communists in the first place, and they had a second-phase plan which nobody here paid any attention to because everybody thought once our objectives are achieved, then it’s time to go home. So I think that is something that shouldn’t be done. It should be understood that you need sustained engagement to do that.
There’s a lot that has been said recently about Pakistan that needs to be addressed. If Pakistan is going to be a partner of the United States, in the effort to root out extremism, violent extremism and terrorism, then there has to be a willingness to build trust. Now, we understand the context. I’m not one of those who will mince words. I have, in this city, as ambassador in the last one year, tried to project the value of candor and diplomacy.
So candor is definitely something that is useful. And I have been very candid that there have been mistakes committed on all sides, that there are problems that have arisen in the past – there is mistrust about some of our security institutions. But let me just say that those problems need to be addressed again by talking to us, not by beating up on us. Now, for the reporters, I’ll repeat that sentence because I think that’s a quotable quote even though I say so myself. (Laughter.) The lack of trust between our security institutions will be addressed by talking to us, not by beating on us.
I think that Pakistanis these days are very concerned about what they see as an unbridled indictment of Pakistan security services, giving no credit to Pakistan for the efforts that have been made. We have lost a lot of people along the border with Afghanistan. We have become a major victim of terrorism. More Pakistanis have died as a result of terrorist incidents in the last two years than in any other country.
Now, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made tremendous progress in the last one year. And my brother, my friend, and my colleague, Ambassador Jawad, would be bear me out. We have really worked very hard at rebuilding trust between our nations. And the trilateral mechanisms that have started involving the United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey, they are all improving the levels of trust between our security services, between our governments. A lot more needs to be done. A lot more needs to be done. And we certainly will continue to work along in that direction.
But at the same time, I think it is important that the institutions that are to be the partners in this effort do not start feeling under attack, whether it’s the Pakistani ISI or the Pakistani military. They should feel that there is room for creating a better future in the relationship. And yes, yes, Pakistan has to ensure that Pakistan soil is not used for training or conducting terrorist operations anywhere in the world. And we intend to do that. Pakistan no longer lacks the will to fight terrorists and extremists. It is very clear. Our parliament unanimously said last year that Pakistan is now committed to join the war against violent extremism and terrorism as our own cause. We do not want to join this because we need assistance from the United States. Even if we do not get assistance, we will fight the terrorists. President Asif Zardari has made it very clear that this is Pakistan’s own war. Prime Minister Gillani has repeatedly said that this is our own war. It’s a war that we are fighting to save the soul of our nation.
Pakistan has changed over the last three decades since we got involved in the war against the Soviets against Afghanistan. We didn’t have extremist religious institutions in the manner we have them now. Our own lifestyle has been affected, and the average Pakistani wants Pakistan to go back to the times when Pakistani peers – I don’t know how many people know that but our Afghani brothers certainly know that – Pakistani peers – muris (ph). These peers are spiritual leaders – Pakistanis spiritual leaders had followers in Afghanistan, and Afghan spiritual leaders have followers in Pakistan.
We have centuries of shared history and only a few years of misgivings and difficulties. The same goes for our eastern neighbor. India and Pakistan also need to build on our shared history, our shared heritage, and our shared future. But it’s not going to happen overnight. And this is my message to our friends from the great can-do nation where we are guests at the moment. It is important to have the fix-it approach. But if you try to fix it too quickly and in a manner in which you do not have the regional and local stakeholders fully on board, you’re going to run into difficulty.
So I think that it is important to define an end mission. I think that the elimination of al Qaeda and the decapitation of the extremist Taliban should be the end mission. I think that Pakistan security forces’ capacity building should be an important priority for the United States. And every effort should be made to strengthen the institutions of democracy in Pakistan, which will ensure oversight and accountability within in Pakistan of all of Pakistan’s institutions, and also of the – of the allocations – of the expenditure of allocations that are made for our own development.
We have to make sure that the young people of Pakistan and of Afghanistan have hope in their future because only hopeful people will be able to confront the suicide terrorists and extremists. If our young people have no hope for an education, no hope for a job in the future, if 42 percent of Pakistan’s school-going age children and a larger number than that in Afghanistan remain out of school, then we will have continual trouble.
So make the investment. It’s an investment for America’s security. But make that investment by considering Afghanistan and Pakistan as partners. My last word will be about the use of Predator drones inside Pakistan. Pakistani concerns about the use of Predator drones come from two considerations. The first is about national sovereignty. It would be easier for Pakistanis to accept American technology being used to take out extremists and terrorists on Pakistani soul if it is done in partnership with Pakistan, so that no one can say that Pakistan’s national sovereignty is being violated.
It’s not the fact that bad guys are being killed by drones that bothers Pakistanis – not at all. What bothers us sometimes is that this is without sufficient regard for our national sovereignty. And it creates an opinion in Pakistan that runs contrary to our joint mission.
Look. Right now in the United States an environment has arisen in which a lot of people look upon Pakistan, and Afghanistan, with trepidation. In fact, a recent Gallup poll that I was looking at indicates that most Americans have an unfavorable view of our countries. Well, guess what? Most Pakistanis, and also our neighbors in Afghanistan, have a negative view of the United States. So if we are going to move forward as partners, we have to get our people onboard.
You in the United States have to start recognizing and giving more respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan. We in Pakistan and Afghanistan have to make sure that our people do not continue to be fed anti-American propaganda, to a point where they start considering the Americans bigger enemies that the terrorists. That’s a very important thing. So if an attack to eliminate one terrorist is going to create anger, which would produce more terrorists in the future, it needs to be reviewed.
The second part of our concern, of course, is also a shared concern by both Afghan and Pakistani leaders, and that relates to collateral damage. What is collateral damage to American forces is actually a loss of life for a village or a town in Pakistan or Afghanistan. And I think we need to understand that we need people on our side, so that the people will help us fight the terrorists and isolate them – not antagonize them by causing loss of life. That will only make villagers and tribal people angrier and will feed the propaganda from al Qaeda and the Taliban that the Americans are not here to help us – they are here to cause destruction.
So I’ll stop there, and I’m sure that there are questions that you have, and the audience has, that I can answer.
MR. KEMPE: Ambassador Haqqani, you, as promised, have shown great candor, and I’m sure that there will be many questions. I think these were both terrific, frank, clear presentations.
I have one question for you. I’m sure Ford, Toyota and Daimler would embrace your suggestion that the money for GM might want to go elsewhere. I think GM would question whether you can take more money from the U.S. with less intrusiveness.
But here’s my question for you. You essentially called for more money from the U.S. government, with less intrusiveness. What, specifically do – how much of this $1-trillion stimulus package would you like? What, specifically, additional would you like? And what, specifically, would you like it for? And then, thirdly, what part of the intrusiveness bothers you the most?
AMB. HAQQANI: I am not here to ask for money – I’m here to make a case for partnership. And a partnership basically plays on each partner’s strengths and tries to mitigate each partner’s weaknesses. So what are America’s strengths in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan? America has the world’s strongest military, and even in these bad economic times has an economy that is, or could be able to, help Pakistan and Afghanistan. And, in dollar terms, very frankly, the numbers are not as high as you have here.
I spoke of a Marshall Plan the other day, and just off the top of my head talked about figures for investment in Pakistan education, to make sure that all 42 percent of the children who are not in schools get schools to go to. Investment in infrastructure – get the economy started. This is not a – this is an investment, not a handout, which will have to continue on a sustained basis. It’s about investing in Pakistan infrastructure, partly because a mistake was made in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s – when the United States invested in Pakistan’s military capacity and capability-building, but did not invest in Pakistani society.
In 1947, when Pakistan and India became independent simultaneously, the literacy rate in Pakistan was 16 percent, and in India was 18 percent. Well, 62 years down the road, India’s literacy rate has risen to 68 percent; Pakistan’s hovers between 38 and 48 percent. So what was a 2-percent difference has become either a 20- or a 30-percent difference. And the only reason – the only explanation for that is that Pakistan’s security concerns, which America was cognizant of, kept us from being able to invest in our society.
That has created an environment in which the extremists have been able to gain support. They have been able to make appeals to our literate segments of our population. So instead of getting into numbers, which I’ll leave to economists – and, of course, economists always come up with numbers for all kinds of situations, including for bailouts and post-bailout failures. They will come up with numbers – I won’t attempt to do that. All I will say is that this has to be a commit – and it’s not just America’s commitment. It has to be a commitment for all friends of democratic Pakistan, which includes the European Union; our brothers and friends in the Gulf region; and Japan.
All of them need to invest. And this has to be not just pouring money – because that is not the solution – but investing into Pakistan’s future. And driving the terrorists off the – basically draining the swamp from the terrorists. Depriving them of the argument that all the West wants to do is to come and strike at you.
Look, President Obama did a great thing recently. He made the point that the United States is not at war with Islam. It was very important. Now, to many people here it would be self-evident, but to people in our region it matters. It’s something that needs to be said. Similarly, it needs to be said that America’s interests are not just transient; that America is not here just to drop a few bombs, and kill a few people that it considers bad, and go away like it did before. It’s here to stay, and it’s here to actually invest in your people and your future. So without getting into numbers –
MR. KEMPE: Very quickly, on the intrusiveness question, what bothers you there?
AMB. HAQQANI: I think that I am concerned about the tendency of members of the United States Congress to put in too many conditions in legislation that relates to assistance and aid, and thereby trying to legislate virtue. You know, by the way, you shouldn’t be doing this, this, this and this; the president should certify A, B, C and D; the secretary of state should certify X, Y and Z. It just creates – from the Pakistani perspective, it brings back the shadow of the infamous Pressler Amendment.
I don’t know how many people in this audience remember that – and that was a counterproductive amendment. What it did was, it allowed aid to Pakistan, provided there were certain conditions. And then the lack of fulfillment of those conditions automatically triggered an aid cutoff, which made it very difficult. And then you know the congressional dynamic – or, at least, many people in this room know congressional dynamic. It’s not always easy to get something out of Congress – sort of, you know, in legislative terms. So if you have, that is intrusiveness.
MR. KEMPE: Mm-hmm.
AMB. HAQQANI: Second is I think that a lot of things need to be discussed: government to government; State Department to our Foreign Office; the CIA to our ISI; and your military to our military. Unfortunately, quite a lot of the discussion has been taking place right now through The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, instead of being communicated at the administration, government level.
I hope that we will be back to where the diplomats will be doing the job of diplomacy, rather than talking to each other through newspaper leaks – here or in Islamabad. And I’m making a point for both. I don’t want our government to talk to the U.S. through the columns of Dawn, and I don’t not want the U.S. government to talk to Pakistan – and express reservations and concerns about Pakistan, or certain institutions in Pakistan – to us through The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
So those are the two concerns: intrusiveness, in the form of too much conditionality in Congress; and intrusiveness in the form of trying to sort of create the impression that this relationship is a relationship of putting pressure on each other, rather than a partnership in which – look, we understand the problems.
I mean, if you think that somebody like me doesn’t get the challenges that we have in Pakistan, and doesn’t understand the concerns that Americans have about Pakistan, then you’re wrong. We do understand it. We also understand the reasons why certain people have misgivings and concerns. We also realize that we have to adjust our security paradigms to new sensitives (sp) – that terrorism poses a great immediate threat to our survival than some of our traditional concerns about security.
We know all of that. But I think that we will accommodate and adjust to the change realities, and to our mutual partnership needs, in a methodical manner that suits our own pace, within our own country as a democracy.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Ambassador. I see lots of questions. We’ll start here, with – and if you could identify yourself, and to whom you want to pose the question, please.
Q: Thank you. My name is – (inaudible) – Karemi (ph). I’m a correspondent for – (inaudible) – television network from Afghanistan. I have two questions from Ambassador Jawad and a question from Ambassador Haqqani. Ambassador Jawad. The word “community” – I’ve come to this conclusion: that Pakistan has become a safe haven for the militants. But no serious action has been taken for removing. What do you think? And what is your expectation from Obama’s administration regarding this issue?
And Ambassador Haqqani, it’s claimed that the Pakistan government has two side policy part to militants. And, also, the intelligence and security agencies are being accused of helping the militants. The first thing: Is this true? And what do you think, in view of all those facts about U.S. strategy toward militants and war on terrorism? Thank you.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. And because I see so many questions, Ambassadors, if you could keep your answers as brief as possible while answering it.
Let me pile on a question on top of your question for Ambassador Jawad. In your comments earlier you also said, and I think it’s related to this question, that you were happy about the advances in civilian cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but not happy about the cooperation of security services. So what would you like to see there, that’s not happening?
AMB. JAWAD: Well, it’s unfortunate that terrorists and extremist group have found a sanctuary in Pakistan. And we see this as a threat for Pakistan, for Afghanistan – for the region. I think there is more willingness on the part of the international community – the Afghan government; and even our friends in Pakistan – to see this as a serious problem, and to seek ways to mitigate that.
I think that terrorism is a regional and global threat, that requires unconditional, sincere cooperation – by all of us. Therefore, we have shared the information about the existence of the sanctuary operations of the terrorist camp with our friends, both in our bilateral and trilateral meetings. We do not doubt the sincerity of the civilian government of Pakistan to fight terrorism and extremism. They need to acquire better capabilities to deliver.
We think the military in Pakistan has the capabilities to deliver, but they perceive India as the main enemy, not extremism. We have to bring these two institutions together, for the sake of the future of children of Pakistan, the region and the world. I think there is enough efforts – regionally, globally and nationally – also in Pakistan to achieve these objectives. Ambassador Haqqani rightfully indicated the need for investing in more education in our part of the world. Very important to fight extremism.
At the same time, neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan should cut a deal with a group that closes schools in some parts or the country. There are parts of the country that are deprived of schools. One of the most beautiful, Swat Valley – children cannot go to school. The school exists – and in our country, also, we have schools, that we have built with your assistance – but the teachers are being beheaded by the extremists. It’s not resources – it’s also proper policy that you have.
I emphasize the need of sincere, unconditional cooperation to fight a very, very ruthless enemy, that has no mercy. Any kind of divisions, or any kind of distinctions, about my extremists, your extremists, my Taliban – other Taliban, al Qaeda, Taliban others – will prove to be fail for the future of our children in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.
I think it’s a very delicate situation – we know that. Institutions that are on the right side still need a lot of support, and that support should be provided to them. But sincerity and accountability is also needed. If you’re seeking – in Afghanistan we are in favor of benchmark and transparency, because it’s your money. And it’s given to us for your security, too.
And if we set clear benchmarks, it enhances us – or the capability of our ministries to be better: to deliver on the benchmark that you or the U.N. set forth for us. It has proven, actually, better for us in Afghanistan. Those institutions that performed under certain benchmarks, they are doing better. Those ministries that have to withdraw money from the trust funds are more successful, because they have to bring themself up to a level that’s acceptable to the international community.
I think, as I mentioned, we are facing a serious threat. We are facing a ruthless enemy, and we need to cooperate very, very sincerely. And we should admit where the capabilities are lacking, and seek assistance. If we see an unwanted element operating in Afghanistan or in Pakistan – or a camp, or a base – we should try our best to take it out ourself. But if we can’t, we should not hesitate to seek the assistance of others – because these guys are there to kill. They’re the enemy of humanity – they’re the enemy of freedom, anywhere.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Ambassador. Ambassador Haqqani.
AMB. HAQQANI: (Inaudible) – be very short. Pakistan recognizes and understands that terrorism is a threat to Pakistan, to the region and to the world. There is no doubt whatsoever in Pakistan, at any level, that terrorism is our enemy, as much as it is the enemy of anyone else in the world. We have a legacy of mistrust about our security policies of the past – we are working to remove that legacy of mistrust.
It will take some time for us to be sufficiently reassuring to everyone that we have turned a page. And as we consolidate democracy, we will find that all the institutions of Pakistan will be moving in the same direction, under the same leadership. And that leadership wants Pakistan not to be, in any way, a sanctuary for any terrorist element who is responsible for terrorist acts anywhere in the world – anywhere in the world.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Ambassador. Please, in the back.
Q: Thank you. I am – (inaudible) – from Telo TV (ph) in Afghanistan. I have two questions which will get the attention of both respectable ambassadors.
Mr. Ambassador Jawad – you talked about trust deficit. How you can convince the people of Afghanistan, which are mostly living in rural areas, about the U.S. is not an invader army in Afghanistan; about the civilian casualties and ongoing problems that they have now?
And the other question for Mr. Ambassador Haqqani is that if you say that insurgency in Taliban is not only a threat to Pakistan, or only a threat to Afghanistan – it’s a regional threat, a worldwide threat – have you ever had any discussions with Afghanistan, or any other countries, while the Pakistan government were doing the peace deal with Taliban in Swat Valley? Thank you.
AMB. JAWAD: I’ll take the question quickly. Pakistan has not done a peace deal with the Taliban in Swat Valley – period. Pakistan has negotiated an arrangement locally with the – (inaudible) – of Swat. The president of Pakistan has not signed the agreement, and not approved the agreement yet, because he is waiting for the TNSM to fulfill its end of the bargain, which was, essentially, to make sure that the Taliban – whose leader happens to be his son-in-law – that they do not continue to use force. Since that has not happened, the agreement has not been in force.
Now, here’s what I mean when I say that the shorthand about Pakistan is based on an assumption that Pakistan is unable to change. Pakistanis went to the polls on February 18th, 2008. They elected a leadership that ran on the platform saying that: Fighting terrorism is our first priority. They elected the party of someone who was killed by terrorists for standing up against terrorism. So the people of Pakistan quite clearly have a preference for fighting terrorism.
Does Pakistan have a complex situation, political and power equation? Absolutely. But, at the same time, I think we need to make distinctions and we need to understand how the various shades of gray operate in Pakistan. That said, we will make sure that the Swat Valley is cleared of the extremist Taliban and the violent extremists that have been operating there.
There have been many reasons for us to respond. Recently there was a video shown on Pakistani television and it really galvanized the nation into recognizing that the Pakistani nation does not want to tolerate people who do not respect basic human rights. And there are military difficulties in different parts of Pakistan, in different parts of the Pakistani tribal areas, as well as in Swat, which we will be able to deal with much better when the capacity of our military is built to the level where we can an effective counterinsurgency force.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Ambassador Jawad.
AMB. JAWAD: I’ll be brief. The reason that the United States came to Afghanistan, we should not forget, because they were attacked. We were asking for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan since the Cold War. Since the Soviets collapsed we were actively demanding their engagement and presence there. They didn’t come. I wish they were there. We would not have a lot of these problems. Their presence is because the Afghan people demand.
The frustration that sometimes we experience is due to the fact that people don’t see the improvement that they expected in the past seven years, they would like. And that frustration is for the fact that the people do not see enough boots on the ground, enough results from the presence of their international forces for their own personal security. So definitely the United States will not be seen as invader because we know in what kind of environment, in what kind of neighborhood we live. We know what’s going to happen if the international community leave Afghanistan premature.
MR. KEMPE: A couple in the back.
Q: Ambassador, Roger Kirk with the Atlantic Council. Ambassador Jawad, you mentioned that you would be willing during the question period to address the issue of who in the Taliban – who is the Taliban and what concessions should be made or could be made to elements thereof? And is there a model that you’ve already seen that fits this?
AMB. JAWAD: Thank you. An excellent question. I’m glad that you asked. We see the Taliban as three distinct group. The first, small number but the most lethal part of the Taliban, what I call Taliban with capital T, are the ideological Taliban, who are affiliated with al Qaeda, with the regional intelligence agencies, and others. These affiliation with al Qaeda particularly contrary to Iraq, has 30 years root of fighting together against the Soviets and other. It’s not a new affiliation that’s been created, and some of them – there’s been intermarriages between some of the leaders of these ideological Taliban. That’s the first group.
So what to do about them, now that you define them? We have to fight them. We have to eliminate them. There is no other option. They hate everything that you and I stand for – freedom, gender equality, education. They don’t want any of these things. If you make concession, it’s very costly. The results of the similar action with peace talk and concession in northern and southern Waziristan, for instance. Everybody is paying a heavy price for that kind of concession. I don’t think it’s right to do this.
And particularly if we are not speaking from the position of strength then why they should talk to us?
The second group of the Taliban, what I call the so-called moderate Taliban or the militias, are those who have been either antagonized because of the lack of proper governance on our part. Our governors, our chief of police have antagonized, all because of the military operation of the international community. Or they’ve been recruited by the narco-traffickers and other agents in the region. This group could be negotiated with, could be brought over by financial incentive and others.
Then the third, the large group, the majority of the groups are what I call the Taliban with small T, or the paycheck Taliban. These are young, belligerent Afghans and some outside Afghanistan that have been lured with the promises of paradise and money to carry out their operations. They’ve been brainwashed. Most of them are illiterate, being recruited from madrassas and other places.
For this group there is really not so much need to negotiation or discussion. We need to give them a job, we need to give them hope. They are paid right now $300 a month when they carry their operations in Afghanistan, so we need to make sure that there’s a future for them, a demand for them.
And last point on who are the Taliban and what to do about them, these three groups, and I’ve indicated what to do with one of them. Negotiation in the middle part, jobs for the majority of the jobless and ignorant, and military pressure for the ideological. If there is negotiation and talk, it should be conducted through the Afghan government. The conductor of these engagements should be the government of Afghanistan. Otherwise it will send very confusing messages to the community because we have so many stakeholders. We have 40 countries with military presence in Afghanistan. You can imagine if any of them start talking to anyone that claim to represent some part of the Taliban, it will dilute the picture very much.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you for that very interesting answer. I’ve got so many questions. I saw those in the back. Going to the people I’ve seen first, so please in the back there. Thank you.
Q: I’m Durik Bar (ph) from Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper and to Ambassador Jawad. There was an article recently in the Foreign Policy magazine which quoted several U.S. scholars, including Christian Fair (ph) saying that India was using its consulates in Afghanistan by stirring troubles in Baluchistan and also Sumit Ganguly, who is another U.S. scholar of Indian origin, said that, yes, India is doing so and we will do so because you created a problem for us in Kashmir, so we need to get even. Would you like to comment on that, please?
AMB. JAWAD: There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation about our political relations with India, in particular about the Indian consulate in Afghanistan. I’ve seen these reports, that there are 14 Indian consulate in Afghanistan. There are only three or four major cities in Afghanistan, so we can’t build consulate in small villages in Afghanistan.
And there has been talk about 2,000 people working in the Indian consulate in Jalalabad. All of them are nonsense. You can do a Google search actually and look at the size of the building of Indian consulate in Jalalabad, see if you can fit even 2,000 birds in there, not 2,000 people. (Laughter.) There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation.
And about the number and the size of all the activities, let’s get clear on that too. We have the agency present in Afghanistan. We have a number of the intelligence organizations of the neighboring countries of the U.K., of Europeans, of NATO. Let’s ask them. Is there any change going on about India? They are my partner and your partner too. If there is any evidence, we will act upon. We are aware of your sensitivities about the activities of India and Afghanistan. We are trying very hard to make sure the Indian reconstruction project and activities does not actually translate into any destructive activities from Afghan soil and Pakistan.
I think if there is any evidence, as I’ve told you to discuss with all the friendly intelligence agencies that we all have, the two countries have, to ask them if there is any destructive activities. We will certainly act upon.
MR. KEMPE: As we began 10 minutes late, we’ll go 10 minutes over, with the endurance of our two speakers, if you have that. Please, in the back, and then I’ll go to the right. Thank you.
Q: My name is Ali Anan (ph). I’m from Associated Press Pakistan. My question is to Ambassador Jawad. Are there any Indians living in southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan that India has set up consulates in Jalalabad and other places – because consulates, as we understand, are meant to provide the consular visa services?
MR. KEMPE: I’m going to pass also part of that to Ambassador Haqqani. As you are seeing the Indian presence in Afghanistan, do you see it as a positive presence, are you communicating with India in any way?
AMB. HAQQANI: When I was in kindergarten my mom told me that if you didn’t want to handle something, say no thank you. (Laughter.) Let Ambassador Jawad answer that.
AMB. JAWAD: Thank you. Once again, since 1964 we haven’t signed any new consulate agreement with India. There has not been a new consulate opened in India since that time. In every city and every place that India has a consulate, so has Pakistan. Yes, we do have Indians living in Afghanistan. Fortunately we do have people from United States, Canada, Pakistan. There are a significant number of people from Pakistan living in Afghanistan. We are proud of the presence. We are very grateful for a long time when you accepted us as refugees and allowed us to live in your country.
The presence or living of any nationals in Afghanistan is not against the laws of my country, and they’re welcome if they’re here. But if they are engaged in any destructive activity, that’s a separate issue. We are ready to talk about that. But if they are there, Pakistani, Iranian and Indian or all that from the region, the neighbors, we should work toward a day there will be no visa requirement between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, or Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There is nothing wrong. We see more Afghans in Karachi or more Pakistani in Kabul. We are in fact working to achieve this objective one day.
The consulate in Jalalabad is an old consulate. It was during the royal time, the 1960s that all the consulate with India is dating to that time. As I mentioned, you have consulate – Pakistan has consulate in every city that India has a consulate.
MR. KEMPE: I don’t know whether you want to leave at no thank you because I think you have raised a bit of a question. Perhaps with that you can touch a little bit on how you think the India-Pakistani relationship has evolved after the Mumbai attacks, where I think as an outside observer it appears the Indians have shown admirable restraint.
AMB. HAQQANI: Well, I think that Pakistan and India were making remarkable progress before the Mumbai incident in overcoming our difficult relationship of mutual suspicion. And in fact our foreign minister landed in Delhi just hours before the Mumbai tragedy happened because he was going there with the intention of carrying forward the peace process that we have started between our two countries.
The target of those who perpetrated the heinous acts in Mumbai was two-fold. One was, of course, to create terror, which they did. But the other was to undermine India-Pakistan relations. I think that Pakistan’s conduct in the aftermath of Mumbai has been above-board. We banned the organizations that were identified as having any link to this incident. We worked together with the international community and implemented the United Nations sanctions on several individuals and groups that were associated with the groups that were associated with the Mumbai tragedy.
And we sent 140 people, including those who were identified by the Indians as the masterminds of the incidents in Mumbai. We have also exchanged all intelligence and information with India. And if India has been restrained, it is because they are confident that we have been above board in sharing the information with them.
The problem is that this is an election year in India. And no politician in India wants to appear to be soft on Pakistan in this election year. So what I am hoping for is that once the Indian election is over, we will go back to building the relationship that we were trying to build, a relationship that is based on the shared past and the hopes for the future rather than obsessed with just a few years in which we have both have had misgivings and concerns about each other.
That said, both India and Pakistan have security concerns, which we always should be willing to discuss with one another. And in relation to Afghanistan also, I think both of us need to talk to each other as well, India and Pakistan, to make sure that Pakistan’s concerns, legitimate or just based on misinformation, are addressed.
In fact, we had a very good environment immediately after the election in Pakistan. And I think if we allow that environment to be lost forever, to be lost for a considerable period of time, then the extremists have won because that’s what their purpose was. Their purpose was, through the attacks in Mumbai, high profile attacks in Mumbai, they wanted to make everyone in India go back to being suspicious and not have the warmth that many people were expressing about the new democratic people in Pakistan.
And for people in Pakistan to go back to being concerned about Indian intentions toward Pakistan. I think that we need to understand that whenever two countries have a legacy of mistrust, they need to work on removing that legacy of mistrust. And it’s a process. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Mumbai was an event. Our relationship and our desire for peace is a process, and we will continue to advance that process, and we should.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Ambassador. I’m very glad we hit on this. I’m going to take one question here, the gentleman right here, and then the gentleman back along the pillar who’s been very patient. I think these will have to be the last two questions.
Q: Dahagai (ph) with the Pakistani-American Leadership Center. My question is for Ambassador Haqqani. If we look specifically at the recently introduced legislation by Chairman Berman on Friday, the peace act of 2009, and we look specifically at the security assistance provisions in those bills, Title II, with the exception of granting access to A.Q. Khan, the conditions on the security assistance are things that Pakistan claims it’s already doing.
So is your concern that Pakistan will not be able to meet those conditions, or is it something else?
MR. KEMPE: Shall we take the one other?
AMB. HAQQANI: Let me answer. Our concern is not that we cannot fulfill conditions. Our concern is about the process of conditions. I think that assistance that has too many detailed conditionalities can run into difficulties, not because of non-fulfillment of the conditions but because of the very nature of the relationship between our two countries. We must understand the historic context.
Pakistan, the fact that right now there’s a large number of Pakistanis that are suspicious of the United States, and there is a large number of Americans that are suspicious of Pakistan requires us to work together. We are very happy to address many of the concerns that are being expressed by Congress. I engage with Congress on an almost daily basis. We welcome the help of people like yourself and groups like yours in reaching out to Congress. We make an effort. We answer the questions.
My only concern is that there is a difference between saying, can you explain this, in private or doing it at a diplomatic level, and putting it in a piece of legislation. That’s all. But that said, we welcome the peace act, we welcome chairman Howard Berman’s efforts, and we really welcome Senator Kerry’s contribution and Senator Lugar’s in coming up with the idea of assistance for Pakistan that is sustained and enduring. We welcome that and we look forward to working out the final legislation in a way in which public opinion in both countries is not adversely impacted by the language of the legislation. That’s all.
Q: I am Dr. Chaudry (ph) with the Pakistan American League. My question is for Ambassador Jawad. So many armies from all over the world are converging into Afghanistan. Can you tell us when they lend the resources, financial and military resources, are they putting any conditions to that? Number one, number two. Are you giving them any lifeline, deadline, cutout line, timeline for how long these troops will be there, when your government can become capable enough to govern?
And don’t you think sometime people of Afghanistan think as if the central government in Afghanistan is compromising sovereignty by having the friends of so many thousands of troops in the country?
And the last part of this question is for Mr. Haqqani. He has mentioned about what the case Pakistan has about the drone attacks that has been presented to the USA so many times by the ambassador of the Pakistan government. I would like to know what is the response, where these conversations, negotiations are stuck. You have not given us what the Americans tell Pakistan, or what the Americans tell you when you put across this case. Thank you very much.
MR. KEMPE: And because you went first to start with, why don’t we let you go first in terms of this final round of answers, and then Ambassador Haqqani.
AMB. HAQQANI: I think it’s a process in which we are engaged. I think that the United States looks upon the drone attacks as a means of eliminating high value al Qaeda terrorists, and they point to their success. The fact that they have killed 12 out of 20 senior al Qaeda leaders that they have identified through the drone attacks, that is what the Americans cite to us.
The point is working out a mechanism whereby our concerns about – and I’m going to be very cautious here for our journalist friends – it’s about working out a mechanism whereby our concerns about sovereignty and about collateral damage are addressed. I think that we do not have anything to report. That is why I didn’t say anything as to what it is. We’ve expressed our concerns, and at the same time we are willing to work with our American partners.
The most important thing, and this is the final word. We consider the United States of America a partner, and we want to be considered America’s partner with the same level of respect that a partner should have. We consider our brothers in Afghanistan both as our brothers and neighbors, and we also consider them as partners in this gigantic effort that we have to launch to eliminate terrorism and extremism from our region.
We really have nothing but good will toward both the U.S. and Afghanistan, and we think that that good will, if freely reciprocated, will lay the foundations for us to overcome the trust deficit of the past, and create a future in which we will not only achieve our strategic objectives, but we will be able to build an enduring and lasting partnership between our countries.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Ambassador. Ambassador Jawad.
AMB. JAWAD: Thank you. Your question was three parts – the condition, the timeline, and the sovereignty conditions. The international community have come to Afghanistan to defend peace in Afghanistan, stability in the region, and security in the walls. It’s a much longer mission. They are welcome. We need them. They have to be there. This is very clear.
Their commission is that they came in order to provide safety and security for Afghanistan in peace and they should work toward that objective. That’s the only condition. That’s what we expect from them.
The timeline, how long is it going to take that they came there as a defensive act. As long as the regional threat of terrorism and the global threat of terrorism is there, we would like them to stay with us. We’d like them to stay with us and build the capacity gradually to do this job ourselves.
How fast they can leave. It depends how quickly they invest in building the Afghan security institution, first. Second, what’s going to happen in the region in the world? As I mentioned, this is global. It’s a regional mission. They are there not just for the safety and security of Afghans, for the safety and security of European, of the world. We share this small planet with all of us, and they are welcome. As long as they are here, as long as they stick with the real mission of working for the safety and security of Afghans and the rest of the world. Thank you very much.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. In closing we have – I’m going to let you applaud again. Before I thank both of these gentlemen, I just want to say one thing. When Ambassador Haqqani came here in June last year, he said, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has gone up and down like a yo-yo, and the reason why that’s been the case is because the U.S. strategic planners have never looked upon Pakistan in its own right. Then I jump to the end of this quote – so there has never been a deep understanding of each other that has been needed on both sides.
We established the South Asia Center not only because we saw this deficit, but we saw the deficit of that sort of understanding for the whole region, for India, for Afghanistan, for Iran, for the other countries of the region stretching into Central Asia, as we’re defining it as well. People ask, why is the Atlantic Council doing a South Asia Center and how is it going to be different? One sentence answer on both of those.
First of all, it is one of the most important new initiatives of the Atlantic Council in years. We established it because we understand there is no region more important to our interests right now in the world. But frankly, global interest.
Number two, how is it going to be different? You can see already that it’s different in the sense that it’s being run by someone from the region. And we’re setting up relationships in the region so that we’re actually going to be talking in the region with people in the region, and not going out trying to say this is the American view of how things ought to be done. But rather to spread understanding.
So thank you for allowing us to host you for this important public event of the South Asia Center. Thank you to Shuja for launching this. The next event for the center will be April 22nd here, 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister of Afghanistan and a member of the Atlantic Council International advisory board will be unveiling a report he’s done for us, 10-year plan for Afghanistan, how to execute the Obama strategy.
So join us again, and thank you, gentlemen. You have enormously difficult jobs at an incredibly historic time, and your countries are well represented. Thank you so much.