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Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

You have to ask yourself why God would have instituted love at all and incorporated it in the human makeup (and possibly – probably –  also that of other animals).  We could have been created devoid any emotions at all.  Why give us love?  Why did God do that to us?

Since we have it, why does man do this,  especially to a family member, a daughter,  who should be loved instead of being seen as chattel?  Why to an unborn, innocent, loved and wanted child?

There is a human right to love.  God gave us the capacity.  It was intentional and is a mystery.  That right to love, whomever, must be respected and protected.  No one and no government or religion should ever stand against anyone’s God-given right to love.

Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family

Associated Press

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this “heinous crime.”

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Read more >>>>>   There is also a video.  Be warned.

There is also this case about which Hillary Clinton tweeted.

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Meriam Yahya Ibrahim’s death sentence is abhorrent. Sudan should stop threatening religious freedom and fundamental human rights.

Related headlines

…and just when you thought it could not get worse.

UPDATE:

 

Apostasy woman in Sudan sentenced to death forced to give birth ‘with her legs chained’

Meriam Ibrahim was shackled while she gave birth to a baby girl in the Omdurman Women’s Prison on Tuesday.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

‘Malala Day’ marked in Pakistan, amid security fears

By Reuters

As Pakistan marked “Malala Day” in a global day of support for the teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education, security fears in her hometown meant her schoolmates could not honor her in public.

Taliban hit men shot Malala Yousafzai on her school bus a month ago in Mingora in Pakistan’s north-western Swat Valley in a cold-blooded murder attempt for the “crime” of campaigning for girls’ rights to go to school.

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7 indicted in connection with Bhutto assassination

From Shaan A. Khan, CNN
November 5, 2011 — Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Bhutto assassination, posted with vodpod

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Seven men, including two senior police officers, were indicted Saturday for conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a defense attorney told CNN.

Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007.

Read more >>>>

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After Hillary Clinton left Pakistan yesterday,  images popped up on her Daylife site that were more than disturbing.  They attest to why this particular trip was more dangerous than usual for our intrepid, outspoken Mme. Secretary, who, of course, has been to Pakistan before, but  that was before we tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden.

We are drawing near the six-month anniversary of the series of uprisings in the Arab world known as the Arab Spring.  Americans may be inured to images of protest in the Arab world,  but these Pakistani photos are very different from those we have seen out of the countries where the goal of the protests was democratic participation in government.  I think the contrasts are obvious.

Here are some photos from Pakistan yesterday,  dramatically different beginning with the absence of women and girls, the joyousness.  These Pakistani men are angry and hateful.  They are not demanding a voice.  The voiceless ones, the women, are absent from this.  The anger is not against a longtime dictator.  It is against us and our chief representative there, Hillary Clinton.  I credit our Head Homegirl with high marks for her courage and steadfastness in the face of opposition.  Thank you, Secretary Clinton for your valor.   Your Homegirls and Homeboys love you and have your back!

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I just received this. Sickening. I have no words.

U.S. Strongly Condemns Stoning Of Woman in Orakzai, Pakistan

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
September 28, 2010

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal stoning of a woman in Orakzai, Pakistan, allegedly by members of the Pakistani Taliban, which is depicted in a video circulating on the internet.

This vicious attack, carried out as a crowd of onlookers watched, violates all norms of human decency and is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life. There is no justification for such barbaric and cruel treatment of a fellow human being.

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Here we go again.  I feel it is incumbent upon me to point out, yet another time that Hillary Clinton never said she had a crush on David Miliband, Foreign Minister of the U.K.  She NEVER SAID THAT!

This article from the Mail Online:   Move over Miliband! Hillary Clinton has a ‘special relationship’ with a new foreign minister begins with the incorrect assertion:

First she admitted a crush on David Miliband.

The text from the December 2009 Vogue article is below.  Please bear in mind that the first person pronouns refer to the author of the article, Jonathan Van Meter, and not to Secretary of State Clinton.

I was also happy to see her taking delight in a favorite new colleague, David Miliband, the tall and dashing 44-year-old British foreign secretary. When I mentioned to her over lunch that I had spoken with him, she lit up. “Oh, my God!” I joked that I got a crush over the phone in about five seconds partly because of his accent, and she said, “Well, if you saw him it would be a big crush. I mean, he is so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart. He’s really a good guy. And he’s so young!”

For his part, Miliband seems smitten, too. “She applies intellect but also psychology to the dossiers that she’s studying. She uses her experience in a very impressive way. She brings it to bear in a way that enriches a conversation but doesn’t swamp it. She learns from history without being trapped by it. I think it’s also important to say that she’s delightful to deal with one on one.* She’s someone who laughs and can tease, and she’s got perspective as well.”

(*Uh…yes, David.  Delightful!  We’re sure!)

It was Jonathan who said he had a crush. Hillary Clinton never said she did. Is that clear to everybody? Any questions?

Now, to get back to the Mail Online article,  I just knew, when I saw these pictures from Wednesday, that somehow Miliband’s name would come up.

I have been noticing since his first visit to her at State last year, as well as during her visit to Pakistan, that they got along particularly nicely.  Is she flirting?  Seriously!  Is there any doubt?   She is a beautiful woman, and she probably enjoys the results she gets from flirting.  I really do not see anything wrong with that.  She flirts all the time.  She is really good at it!

Is she “crushing”?  Crushes are fine, I guess, but I just want to point out (for the nth time on this blog) that Hillary Clinton has not admitted to any.  Although I must say that I do think Miliband has been crushing on her, and maybe Qureshi as well.   Who can blame them?

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Many readers here will recognize the Phoenix logo to the left from 2008 when it became a symbol within the PUMA movement  in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention.  The slogan was “Rise, Hillary, Rise” and referred to the hopes of the PUMAs that a fair and transparent roll call on the convention floor would permit Hillary to prevail as the nominee.   Things did not play out that way.  When Barack Obama became the nominee, and Hillary campaigned for the Democratic ticket (as she had always said she would), many of her supporters fell away, became embittered, some attacked Hillary, and this blog was born in her defense.

Now, in the run-up to President Obama’s (yes, folks, he is the President) speech on Afghanistan policy tomorrow night from West Point, this very interesting article pops up on a news feed, and I find it so very noteworthy for several reasons.  In  Can Hillary Clinton win the war in Afghanistan?, published by The Newark Examiner online, my new best friend  (and Homeboy) Kyle Sennett refutes several of the toxic memes that we Homegirls have been battling over the months of Hillary Clinton’s service as Secretary of State.

Perhaps the most persistent and  infuriating was the marginalization meme.  It also served as the umbrella for other spin-off memes.  You remember that one.  The story was that Hillary was being marginalized by the White House.  The spin-offs were that she was powerless,  was overshadowed by her special envoys (the ones she suggested to help her oversee critical regions),  that she was unhappy (because she was powerless),  that she was quitting State and running for Governor of New York, her old Senate seat, etc.  You can find them all in the archives here.

So now, at the zenith of speculation about what President Obama will lay out as an Afghanistan policy tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on when you read this) among the many predictions, some perhaps based on leaks, but nary a single word from Hillary who refused flat out to speak on the issue, Sennett posts his own reasoned argument regarding the issue and Secretary Clinton’s role in it.   In doing so, he carefully dismantles the toxic memes, argues as to how she has been a major player all along on the AF-Pak issues and policies,  and proposes that this is her vehicle.  That Obama is handing Af-Pak to her to manuveur.

I will not presume to answer the question in his title.  If she can,  this would be a first in the history of the region which time and again has resisted foreign intervention.  But there is no question that as Sennett states:

Secretary Clinton is at the forefront of the effort, and all signs point to the idea that she, and the Obama administration, are approaching it with an open mind.

Sennett provides an excellent review of events leading up to the formation of this policy and of Secretary Clinton’s involvement. You can, and should,   read his whole article here.

You didn’t think for a minute that I would post this without a picture of the Head Homegirl, now, did you?

 

Oh!  And in case Kyle and I have not made it perfectly clear:  Hillary was never down.  She has always been, and continues to be, rising, and rising, and rising.

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On Facebook, I encountered some negative comments regarding this particular stop on the Secretary of State’s tour of Pakistan.  With Foreign Minister Qureshi, she visited the Badshahi Masjid and the grave of the poet  Muhammad Iqbal in Lahore.  Some comments suggested that she should not have worn the veil, a few went as far as to suggest that she should have staged a protest by insisting on entering these venues bareheaded.  I disagree strongly and think the Secretary of State did exactly the correct thing by covering her head in these venues.

First and foremost, we should remember that one of the primary goals of this visit was to change the direction in which Pakistani media was taking its portrayal of the United States.  Wherever she has traveled as Secretary of State, our Head Homegirl has staged outreaches to the populace in addition to her ministerial meetings.  She set this out as one of her priorities back in February soon after assuming her post.   In Pakistan these press availabilities and TV and radio interviews were part of what one commenter at another of my blogs dubbed a “charm offensive.” Yes, I agree.  That is what she was doing there, using her charm to try to win the Pakistani people over to us and away from the Taliban.

I am wondering exactly how refusing to cover her head would have accomplished what the Secretary had set out to do. How would that have helped her image and ours in Pakistan?

I would perhaps have had misgivings had she circulated throughout the country wearing a veil, but she did not. She wore the veil exclusively in the religious setting showing the great respect she has shown in other locations for this and other world religions. She was in a house of worship, and , as always, followed the prescribed behavior for that particular religion. To have done otherwise would have been counterproductive and negative.

That last picture at the Wailing Wall was taken when she was Senator from NY in 2005.  Other pictures show her visiting a shrine in Japan and the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico where the Monsignor blessed her.

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INDIA-USA/CLINTONSecretary of State Hillary Clinton will be traveling to Pakistan in the near future according P.J. Crowley,  Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs.  The announcement came  during a press briefing yesterday by Special Envoy to the AfPak Region, Richard Holbrooke.  For security reasons, the dates of this trip are not being made public.

Well, I knew that sooner or later she would be going there, but after the story that came out of Nairobi (which has never been verified to my knowledge),  I have intense trepidations about Pakistan’s ability to keep her safe.

They were unable to protect Benazir Bhutto.  If anyone were ever a walking target in that country, Bhutto was.  I do not want to see my beloved Secretary of State cut down as Bhutto was.

One morning soon, I will awaken to the news that she is in Pakistan – just as I did the morning she landed in Iraq.  I know, I know!  It’s part of the job she signed on for.  That does not, however, make it any easier to see her go to dangerous places.

So I guess the best all of us can do is to continue to pray for her safety and success, and continue lighting candles for her.

The transcript of the briefing is below.

On-the-Record Briefing

Richard Holbrooke
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Washington, DC
October 23, 2009

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it is true, when Ambassador Richard Holbrooke comes to visit us, we have a packed house.

Welcome to the Department of State. And the Secretary of State has indicated many, many times that she looks forward to traveling to Pakistan this fall. We are not going to announce specific dates for her travel for security reasons. But in light of her desire to travel to Pakistan soon, we thought it was appropriate to bring Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, our Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, down to just kind of give an update in terms of what’s happening within Pakistan. Obviously, the important Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation that was passed by the Congress recently, and I suspect you’ll probably ask him a question or two about Afghanistan as well.

So we’ll turn it over to Ambassador Holbrooke.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Thanks, P.J. It’s good to be back. I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Daniel Dombey, Financial Times. Daniel Dombey, Financial Times – two, if I may. First of all, in August you said that the election and the delay of the election, because of the Bush Administration’s choices, meant that you were unable to make the progress focus – keep a focus that you wanted to issues like governance and amnesty for insurgents and battling corruption. Have you made much progress on those dossiers since, or does the election and its complications continue that difficulty?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I did say that. I did say that, and I – first, in answer to your question, we’re still in the election. The second round is going to take place on November 7th, and so we’re still in that phase. Then the winner has to form a government. But I did say that. And for those of you who haven’t followed this as carefully as you did, I want to be very clear: There were different kinds of programs we have in Afghanistan, and some of them – excuse me, do you have some water – oh, here – some of them have proceeded without any effect. A good example of a very successful change has been our upgrading of agriculture. This is a huge event in this country. It wasn’t controversial. We talked to all the candidates about it, the government. We have upgraded the number of American civilians working on agriculture from about twelve to over a hundred by the end of this year. They’re going out into the provinces.

We have asked Congress for a tremendous increase in our efforts. And this is very simple, it’s an agricultural country. Until the Soviet invasion, it had exported food, wheat, raisins, pomegranates, pistachios, almonds, and now it imports. And that’s what the people do. And the last eight years, we spent more money in eradicating poppies than we did in building agriculture. That made no sense to Secretary Clinton or myself or our colleagues at the White House or Tom Vilsack, and so we upgraded that. It had nothing to do with the elections. Same on some other major programs in our civilian buildup.

But in the programs you specified, which had a much closer direction – relationship to the political process, it was unavoidable they would be affected. And that’s just a fact of life, and I want to clarify that. But we have been planning – the civilian growth has been continuous. I think Jack Lew has been down here to discuss that.

MR. CROWLEY: He’ll brief on Monday.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Jack will be here Monday, and he will give you all the figures on the personnel buildup, which he and I oversee together. And we have our programs ready to go.

Another area where there has not been enough action because of the relationships of the election has been what some people call reintegration, others call amnesty, others call reach out to those among the Taliban who are not ideologically attracted to al-Qaida. And in this regard, I would draw your attention again to the Secretary of State’s speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on July 15th, where she laid out extremely clearly what our view was on the terms under which people should be welcomed back. And that issue has to be reinvigorated after the results of the election are known.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, knowing what you know now about the fraud that was the problem in the first round of the elections, what are the prospects of avoiding similar problems in the runoff election? What is being done?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: First of all, let’s start with the clear recognition of what happened between August 20th and Monday of this week. A lot of people went out to vote. Millions of people risked their lives, in the face of an overt threat against them if they voted, by the Taliban. They deserve great credit. As my boss, Secretary Clinton, said frequently, she can’t think of a country in that stage of development, in those conditions of warfare, which had ever attempted an election under more difficult circumstances.

From the beginning, and you know this because we traveled together, I said publicly that this election would be imperfect. I said it on the record. And there were many irregularities. But in the end, the process worked, and I want to stress that. The Election Complaints Commission declared that neither candidate got 50 percent, although one came very close, and that the top two candidates were President Karzai and Dr. Abdullah and they should have a runoff. We had a very dramatic last few days, as you all know, in which we in Washington and working with Ambassador Eikenberry, with the UN, and with Senator Kerry, encouraged the leadership on all sides in Afghanistan to accept that outcome. As you all know, they did.

And therefore, it is my view that although the drama since August 20th is very substantial, and you witnessed part of it yourself – although the drama was very substantial, where we are is right where the process dictated it should be.

So now to your question. Excuse the long windup, but I really want to make clear how we got to where we are.

There’s going to be an election in just a few days. It is reasonable to hope that there will be less irregularities this time for several reasons. One, there are only two candidates; two, there’s the experience factor; three, the international community, including the forces under General McChrystal’s command, are going to go all out to help make this a success. Now, they did so on August 20th, but there are more forces in the country today and they’re ready to be deployed. Not all of the 21,000 troops authorized by President Obama were in place on August 20th. They are all there now.

So we’re hopeful. We invite international observers again. I’ve been in touch with the NDI and the IRI to see if they’re going to participate. They’re trying to gear up new observer missions. And we expect a lot of you to be there on election day. And – but I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen. I don’t think predicting things in Afghanistan is such a great idea.

But I really do want to underscore something which has not been adequately reported. In the end, the system worked. It was difficult, it was complicated, it took longer than people expected, but we came out of it with an acknowledgement that no one got 50 percent. And then, the constitution and the laws of the country were respected, and I think that deserves acknowledgment.

QUESTION: Ambassador, Mark Landler with The New York Times. Earlier today in Bratislava, the Defense Secretary Gates along with General McChrystal briefed NATO ministers about the counterinsurgency plans. And they received what people are characterizing as a broad endorsement of a counterinsurgency plan. Are you concerned that this narrows the options for President Obama as he considers options that range from what’s commonly thought of as Vice President Biden’s approach to a more ambitious counterinsurgency approach?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I haven’t seen the detailed reports from Bratislava, just the news reports, and I hesitate to comment based on those. We are in the middle of a very intense review of policy. We have not changed our strategic goal at all. Our core goal was articulated by President Obama on March 27th. There’s been some misunderstandings about that, but let me be clear, and I don’t think any of us who are participating in that process should comment on it, but in no way, shape, or form are the President’s options constrained by anything you’re alluding to, whatever it was. He is the President, he’s our Commander in Chief, and he will decide.

Before I call on anyone else, I’m happy to answer these questions, but we’re also ready to talk about Pakistan, and that’s why I’m going to call on Sammy, because I —

QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you, Ambassador. Ambassador, would you tell us what Secretary Clinton will be focusing in Pakistan during her visit? And secondly, yesterday, Congress imposed some new restriction on military aid to Pakistan, and many in Pakistan believe that it is an expression of mistrust over Pakistani security forces even after successful operation in Islam – in Swat. So what is your response to that, too?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Say the – Sammy, what was the last part of your question about Swat?

QUESTION: There was a very successful military operation, but still, U.S. Congress yesterday imposed new restriction —

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Oh, yes. Okay.

QUESTION: — on military aid to Pakistan.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: First of all, on the trip, as P.J. already said, there are security constraints on how we discuss this. And you’re reading – there are already some reports out of Islamabad about what the Secretary’s going to do and when she’s arriving. That’s all speculation. And I’ll – I can tell you honestly that if the speculation is too well-informed, it will affect the content of the trip. And we – so I’m not going to talk about timing, details, or who she’s going to see except to say that she will see the leadership of the country, the leading members of the opposition, civic society, businessmen, and as many people as she can in a limited period of time within the limits of a very, very dramatic situation going on in your home country.

Now in – to get to the second part of this on the defense authorization bill, this bill was passed yesterday. And it is not in any way similar to Kerry-Lugar-Berman except in one core thing. It is part of the Congress’s statement that they share the Executive Branch’s view that Pakistan is a treasured friend and ally which is in a situation where American assistance is called for. And the fact that the Congress is doing this should be understood in Pakistan, as it is in the United States, as a sign of the high importance we attach to Pakistan.

Now, in regard to the – what you called – did you use the C-word as in “conditions” a minute ago, Sammy?

QUESTION: Yeah, I did.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Did I hear you use that word?

QUESTION: Yeah.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, then let me tell you there are no conditions in this bill. There are no conditions. I don’t want to get into legalisms here, but there are requirements on us. The Congress wants the Secretary of Defense, in the case of this bill, and the Secretary of State, in the case of Kerry-Lugar-Berman, to report to them on certain issues before and during the process of releasing the funds.

But this is a pro-Pakistan bill, and I pray that your colleagues in Islamabad report it accurately so that we don’t have another misunderstanding. I know most of the people here are probably bored with the details of this, but Kerry-Lugar-Berman was a great piece of legislation passed by unanimous consent, and then Foreign Minister Qureshi came back here for clarifications which he was provided by Senator Lugar and Chairman Berman, and then Senator Kerry went to Islamabad. And when Secretary Clinton is there, we know it’ll come up, but let’s proceed from the facts.

Now, let me just ask my colleague, David, is there anything else I should add on this, on this question?

STAFF: There’s no conditions on Pakistan.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: There are no – okay, thank you. I just want to be unambiguous; there are no conditions on Pakistan. There are reporting requirements on us. If you read the legislation, all – almost all legislation now, and for the last 30 years since the 1970s, Congress began putting reporting requirements on the Executive Branch. This began in the Nixon-Kissinger era. That’s how it works. And there’s been a total, and I believe willful distortion of this among some people in Pakistan.

Those are the facts, and (State Department Official) is here from the congressional and he will be available to talk to you on background afterwards about more of this if you want to, but we really want to get this off the agenda. (Laughter.)

Paul.

QUESTION: Paul Richter with LA Times. Ambassador, can you give us your view of how well the Pakistani army offensive in South Waziristan is going? And do you think that that military action has much potential to damage al-Qaida?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, I can’t give you an answer because the offensive is just underway. I asked that question of my intelligence advisors this morning. They did not have definitive information. We know where the troops are going; they’re in the early phase. But it’ll take a while before we know whether the enemy they’re fighting has been dispersed or destroyed or some mixture of the two. But there’s – but this is obviously a question of very great importance, and we’ll look at it closely during the trip.

QUESTION: And on al-Qaida, may I – can I ask you about that? How much potential does this action have to set back al-Qaida, in your view?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I don’t know, Paul, because the target was not al-Qaida per se, because al-Qaida is a shadowy group of people who are moving around. And since – and we don’t – you know very well how difficult it’s been to locate them over the last eight years. But I would leave those issues for the Pakistani military spokesman to address.

Way in the back.

QUESTION: Ambassador, Nadia Bilbassy with MBC Television. Just —

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: From where?

QUESTION: MBC Television – Middle East Broadcasting.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: MBC, yeah.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on the NATO question, I know you don’t want to talk about the report, but surely you have an idea of what the United States wants from NATO, specifically, when the – this coming election on November 7th in terms of civilian or military help. And secondly, President Obama always stressed that the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity. Do you agree and you still see it as such?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Do I agree with the President?

QUESTION: No, do you see it as —

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Yeah, I agree with the President.

(Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Totally.

QUESTION: You would like the President to help. But is this assessment still valid today?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: On your first question, NATO is the greatest alliance – peacetime alliance in history, now engaged in its most important test in its history. And it was designed for one purpose, and from Bosnia and Kosovo on, it’s had evolving purposes.

We take it with the utmost seriousness. We spend an enormous amount of time. My senior deputy Paul Jones was at the North Atlantic Council the day before yesterday briefing them. I’ve been over there twice since I took this job. We will keep in close touch with them. We have 41 nations in this coalition, including all the NATO countries to one degree or another – some very small – plus other countries like Australia, and other non-NATO countries that participate.

And on your second question, I really do agree with the President, and that’s all I need to say on that subject.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Jonathan Landay with McClatchy newspapers. Today was another attack in Pakistan on a military-related facility, this one the Kamra air defense – complex. We’ve had assassination of a brigadier general yesterday, and then there was the attack on GHQ in Rawalpindi. There have been other attacks on the military.

I’m wondering if you could talk about to what extent you believe the Pakistani military is infiltrated by allies of the extremists? These appear to have been inside jobs, at least several of them, and how that – and whether or not there seems to be coordination between them, other extremist groups, and the fighting in Waziristan?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m sure there’s a connection between the offensive and this – these attempts. It’s a pretty obvious tactic of people when they’re under pressure to try to infiltrate and attack you from the rear. I can’t answer your – it’s pure speculation as to how much of this is an inside job or not. I have no information on that, and I’d direct you to the Pakistanis themselves for a judgment.

But we are very impressed with the Pakistani resolve, the support the Pakistani’s army has had since Swat, and the fact that they’ve put so many troops into this battle. They know what the stakes are. And having spent a lot of time with General Kayani and his colleagues, I know how determined they are.

QUESTION: Has this – have the attacks on the military facilities increased in any way concerns about security of the nuclear – of nuclear facilities in Pakistan?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: No. No.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador. Charley Keyes, CNN. Please, sir, if we can just briefly go back to Afghanistan and your role? There was a lot of reporting about – in the intensive consultations with President Karzai that you were not present and your role was eclipsed by Senator Kerry. What are you comments about this? And can you bring us up to date about your personal relationship with President Karzai? Is it too strained to continue?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m not sure how to answer that. I’d like to make a joke and say I’m always happy to be eclipsed by John Kerry, but then you’ll take it seriously, and then I’ll cause more problems. (Laughter.) So let me address it on a more serious basis.

I go to Pakistan and Afghanistan about once every two months. I was there less than two months ago. I will be back in both countries within a short period of time. I can’t go into details because of the Secretary’s plans. The period since I was last in Afghanistan has been, as I already said, the most intense policy review period I have ever experienced in my government career. And my job was to be here to help staff Secretary Clinton, and prepare for these extensive meetings in which she and I both participate.

And I want to make a footnote here, because I noticed that somebody said that there was a meeting we were excluded from yesterday. I want to be very clear on that. The President had a television conference with Ambassador Eikenberry and Ambassador Ricciardone yesterday with some of his inner staff. Secretary Clinton and I knew about it in advance. We thought it was a great idea. He’s the President’s Ambassador and we – and he’s a great ambassador and we encourage him to have that. And we talked about it with him afterwards. I’m online and on the phone to Ambassadors Eikenberry and Ricciardone several times a day, as is my colleagues. And none of this affects any of our processes. In regard to – so that’s why I didn’t go back. And I will be back right on schedule. And when I left in August, I said I’ll come back after the elections.

In terms of my relationships with President Karzai, they’re fine, they’re correct, they’re appropriate. I speak to him on behalf of my government and he speaks as president of the country. I respect him. And if he is the – if he’s reelected as president on November 7th, we all look forward to working closely with him in pursuit of mutual goals. I personally look forward to seeing him in a few days, and I have absolutely no problems with him, and it’s as simple as that.

Let me try to get somebody way in the back just for —

QUESTION: This is Laura Rozen from Politico. I know your team has been meeting with USAID contractors and NGOs and others in the past week to try to communicate your ideas for assistance to Pakistan. Can you talk a little bit about what you all are trying to communicate?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m not sure what you mean by the last week. I meet with NGOs every few days. We are the only office in this building with a full-time NGO person assigned to us who has joined us recently. He – we have a list of close to a thousand NGOs that we have now compiled and doing databasing on. NGOs are a hugely important part of this process. And the Secretary of State herself is deeply involved in outreach to the NGOs. She cares about the NGOs. I ran three NGOs myself until January 19th and have served on many boards. And so yesterday, we met with some of them. We support the NGOs.

At the same time, we’re trying to improve the operations of entities – NGOs and contract employees – who serve – who carry out part of American foreign policy in the region. And this is a very delicate balance, and some people have expressed concerns about this, but we have a very clear image of speeding up the flow of American taxpayer dollars to the people and the governments of the two countries. So if it’s a government contract, we want to speed it up.

Now, of the NGOs I met with yesterday, they all pointed out that only a certain percentage of their funds come from the U.S. Government, and that that percentage is going down. So we encourage them to work with us, and we’ll continue. And I don’t believe you’ll ever find in this building, in its past or currently, any office which spends more time with NGOs —

QUESTION: And —

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: — because it’s what we believe in. Hillary Clinton and I believe in it, and because they’re important.

Margaret.

QUESTION: Back to the Kerry-Lugar bill and the whole flap in Pakistan, it really has sparked a lot of anti-Americanism in the press, in public opinion. What do you think is at the root of that? I mean, you talk about how Pakistan is a great friend and ally of the United States. And how does that factor into Secretary Clinton’s trip? How much of a concern is it? What does she want to do to try to address that? Does she think she can?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: If I could quibble with a word, because I used to be an editor, I don’t think it sparked anything. I think it was just an excuse for a certain group of people who were looking for an excuse to take a great piece of legislation, shepherded through the Congress by Senator Kerry – and I didn’t sufficiently – in answer to the question from the gentleman from CNN, I did not sufficiently pay tribute to what John Kerry did, and – but I’ve done that elsewhere and I’m on the record. I think he did a phenomenal job in both countries on this trip. He got more attention for Afghanistan, of course, and I’ve never seen better collaboration between a member of the Congress and the Executive Branch.

Now back to your question —

QUESTION: If I could just add, but it wasn’t just what people were saying in op-eds, it was the public opinion that got reflected back.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m not sure it was public opinion. The – in the end, it got caught up in domestic Pakistani politics, on which I don’t intend to comment. The parliament wants the Kerry-Lugar-Berman authorization. And it was misunderstood, and perhaps it wasn’t adequately explained. But as far as I’m concerned, that issue is over.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take about two more.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Yes.

QUESTION: Hi, Camille Elhassani–

QUESTION: Oh, me or —

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, why don’t you – both of you.

QUESTION: Okay. First, I’m Steve Centanni from Fox News. Mr. Ambassador, with that decision-making process underway – on the way forward in Afghanistan, how much could that impact the election in Afghanistan, if at all? And conversely, how could the outcome or any problems with the election influence the decision-making process?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: The – I don’t think that – on the first half of your question, how much can the decision affect the election, I would think – I don’t see much connection. On the second one, I will – other people have addressed that in other forums recently and I’ll leave it to them.

QUESTION: Thank you. Camille Elhassani with Al Jazeera English Television. I wanted to ask – you were talking about the reporting requirements in the defense authorization bill. Some of those reporting requirements include what Pakistan can do in regards to the money with – and not spending it to – on its – on the India side of their issues, and it’s more to fight terrorism and insurgency. I wondered, have you gotten a sense from Pakistani authorities that they are on board with that? And what are you doing to convince them that that is the – that fighting that insurgency is the best way to —

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m not sure I follow your question, exactly. Try again.

QUESTION: Sure. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Just so I can be sure I focus on it.

QUESTION: Sure. Well, in the defense authorization bill, it says that the money may not be spent on operations against India, that it should be spent on counterinsurgency, et cetera. So I wondered, do you get a sense in your conversations with Pakistani authorities if they feel that they’re on board with that and what they can spend the money on, and are they really committed to – that that is the focus of their military operations?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: There is a clause on that issue, but I have not had personal discussions with them about it. I look forward to it when I get there. The Congress can speak for itself. But I want to stress again these are not conditions on Pakistan. They’re reporting requirements on us.

One last question.

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Raghubir Goyal from India Globe and Asia Today. My question is that for the last seven years, two presidents who are now running Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Karzai in Afghanistan and General Musharraf in Pakistan – now General Musharraf still hanging around in the U.S. and he’s trying to get back and he’s defending his administration, but criticizing the U.S. that he can do better job again.

And one, if you think that he can come back in any way? And second, as far as President Karzai is concerned, do you still have trust and faith in him as far as his seven years in the past? Because many Afghans are not really in favor of him. What is the future ahead?

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, former President Musharraf is former President Musharraf. He can say anything he wants. He doesn’t speak for the government. He’s free to do what he wants both here and in Pakistan, and we will not interfere in the issues concerning him and his status. I want to stress that.

On the second issue, we have an election going on. If the second round reelects Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan, we look forward to working with him. It’s as simple as that. And second terms are second terms in the United States and in Afghanistan. I don’t see – you can’t erase the past, you can’t change it, but you can build on it. We have very high hopes that after the election, the Government of Afghanistan will work closely with the international community to institute the very programs that we discussed in answer to the much earlier question that came from somebody concerning the issues that have been stalled because of the election process – very high hopes.

And Ambassador Eikenberry, under direct instructions from Hillary Clinton, has been having an – and I did this when I was there two months ago, by the way – this was the major topic of my conversations with President Karzai, was what would happen in the future. And Karl Eikenberry has continued that, and we look forward to continuing it after the elections.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

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Democratic vice presidential candidate U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) smile at a rally in support of Democratic

SCRANTON, PA - OCTOBER 12: Democratic vice presidential candidate U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) smile at a rally in support of Democratic

Since it has become certain that tomorrow morning, Hillary will appear with Obama in Chicago for his announcement of his National Security team,  that she will be nominated for Secretary of State, and that she will accept, there has been some wild speculation about the new relationship between Hillary and Joe Biden.  Here are some things we know about Joe: He has long experience as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Based on that,  he has been expected to have a strong voice on those issues in the Obama administration, and since Hillary’s name came up, there have been hints that territorial conflicts between the two might ensue.  We also know that the Bidens and the Clintons are personal friends, share family ties to Scanton, PA where the photo above was taken, and that Joe loves Hillary (it’s OK, Jill knows about it).

This morning, this disturbing editorial by Nicholas D. Kristof appeared in the NY Times. I am inserting the entire piece since there is no single paragraph or section that is more or less compelling than any other part.

November 30, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

Terrorism That’s Personal

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Terrorism in this part of the world usually means bombs exploding or hotels burning, as the latest horrific scenes from Mumbai attest. Yet alongside the brutal public terrorism that fills the television screens, there is an equally cruel form of terrorism that gets almost no attention and thrives as a result: flinging acid on a woman’s face to leave her hideously deformed.

Here in Pakistan, I’ve been investigating such acid attacks, which are commonly used to terrorize and subjugate women and girls in a swath of Asia from Afghanistan through Cambodia (men are almost never attacked with acid). Because women usually don’t matter in this part of the world, their attackers are rarely prosecuted and acid sales are usually not controlled. It’s a kind of terrorism that becomes accepted as part of the background noise in the region.

This month in Afghanistan, men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies. Naeema Azar, above, was attacked by her husband after they divorced. Her 12-year-old son, Ahmed Shah, looks after her


When I met Naeema Azar, a Pakistani woman who had once been an attractive, self-confident real estate agent, she was wearing a black cloak that enveloped her head and face. Then she removed the covering, and I flinched.

Acid had burned away her left ear and most of her right ear. It had blinded her and burned away her eyelids and most of her face, leaving just bone.

Six skin grafts with flesh from her leg have helped, but she still cannot close her eyes or her mouth; she will not eat in front of others because it is too humiliating to have food slip out as she chews.

“Look at Naeema, she has lost her eyes,” sighed Shahnaz Bukhari, a Pakistani activist who founded an organization to help such women, and who was beginning to tear up. “She makes me cry every time she comes in front of me.”

Ms. Azar had earned a good income and was supporting her three small children when she decided to divorce her husband, Azar Jamsheed, a fruit seller who rarely brought money home. He agreed to end the (arranged) marriage because he had his eye on another woman.

After the divorce was final, Mr. Jamsheed came to say goodbye to the children, and then pulled out a bottle and poured acid on his wife’s face, according to her account and that of their son.

“I screamed,” Ms. Azar recalled. “The flesh of my cheeks was falling off. The bones on my face were showing, and all of my skin was falling off.”

Neighbors came running, as smoke rose from her burning flesh and she ran about blindly, crashing into walls. Mr. Jamsheed was never arrested, and he has since disappeared. (I couldn’t reach him for his side of the story.)

Ms. Azar has survived on the charity of friends and with support from Ms. Bukhari’s group, the Progressive Women’s Association (www.pwaisbd.org). Ms. Bukhari is raising money for a lawyer to push the police to prosecute Mr. Jamsheed, and to pay for eye surgery that — with a skilled surgeon — might be able to restore sight to one eye.

Bangladesh has imposed controls on acid sales to curb such attacks, but otherwise it is fairly easy in Asia to walk into a shop and buy sulfuric or hydrochloric acid suitable for destroying a human face.

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: they are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.

Since 1994, Ms. Bukhari has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.

For the last two years, Senators Joe Biden and Richard Lugar have co-sponsored an International Violence Against Women Act, which would adopt a range of measures to spotlight such brutality and nudge foreign governments to pay heed to it. Let’s hope that with Mr. Biden’s new influence the bill will pass in the next Congress.

That might help end the silence and culture of impunity surrounding this kind of terrorism.

The most haunting part of my visit with Ms. Azar, aside from seeing her face, was a remark by her 12-year-old son, Ahsan Shah, who lovingly leads her around everywhere. He told me that in one house where they stayed for a time after the attack, a man upstairs used to beat his wife every day and taunt her, saying: “You see the woman downstairs who was burned by her husband? I’ll burn you just the same way.”

We here at Homegirl Security have long known of Hillary’s interest in addressing such abuses.  It is only fair to credit the woman she is replacing, Condi Rice, with strong efforts in this area as well.   Knowing Hillary’s long history on women’s and children’s issues, many of us have anticipated the coming nomination with a certain amount of regret at losing her strong, clear voice in the Senate.  But this regret has been tempered with the confidence and trust we have in her abilities to address these issues at an international level as we saw her do in 1996 in Beijing.  And while we know that these are not the only issues she would have dealt with in the Senate or will at State,  an ambivalence remains.  She will certainly be a star at State just as she was and would have continued to be in the Senate.

It was heartening, therefore, to find this article by Kristof this morning.  It attests that others in the Senate have their eyes on these issues at the international level and inspires hope that the same is true at the domestic level.  Of course we are also losing Joe Biden to the new administration, but it is clear that it is not women alone fighting this battle.  And the bill is there, even though Joe is going.

So those of us who follow Hillary’s Senate dispatches will have to switch to another feed from her.  I have no doubt she will remain as informative as ever.  As for Joe, I am sure he will be as supportive as ever of Hillary’s efforts.  I should mention as well that Richard Lugar was on this morning with George Stephanopoulos and intends to support Hillary’s nomination at State.  (OK you can be cynical and say LOTS of Senators want her out of the Senate and at State, right now I prefer to have a little hope and faith).

So as we wish Hillary and Joe Godspeed in their new missions, and mourn the loss of our NY Turbo-Senator,  we can also rejoice that these voices will have gravity in the formation of foreign policy in the next administration.   Thanks, Joe, and Richard, for standing up for women, and thanks, Hillary, for being our hero, role model, and sister.

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