On a fence-mending visit, the secretary of State turns blunt, saying she finds it 'hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to.'
By Paul Richter
October 30, 2009
Reporting from Washington - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, visiting Pakistan on a fence-mending tour, turned unusually blunt Thursday, accusing the government of failing to do all it could to track down Al Qaeda.
Clinton told a group of journalists in Lahore that she found it "hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to." Al Qaeda, she said, "has had a safe haven in Pakistan since 2002."
Clinton's three-day visit is her first to Pakistan since she became secretary of State, and its principal goal is to improve strained relations. On the first day of her visit, in Islamabad, she declared that she wanted to "turn a page" in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship.
But on the second day, frustration seemed to surface as Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York, confronted the long-standing strains between the countries.
Discussing Al Qaeda, she raised the issue of Pakistan's powerful military intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, which has been accused of secretly supporting militant groups in Afghanistan.
"There are issues that, not just the U.S., but others have with your government and with your military security establishment," she said.
Her comments came on a day when she took questions from students at Government College University in Lahore who made it clear that they are deeply suspicious of the United States' intentions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.