Hillary to change Pakistan policy
By Anwar Iqbal, Dawn, March 7, 2008
WASHINGTON, March 7: US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has promised to end the Bush administration’s “one dimensional” policy towards Pakistan if voted to power because it focuses on President Pervez Musharraf and ignores the people.
In a policy statement issued by her headquarters, Mrs Clinton vowed to push for improving relations between India and Pakistan if she wins the 2008 presidential election.
The Democratic leader also promised to increase non-military US assistance to Pakistan and to make the military aid more accountable.
“For the past seven years the Bush administration has pursued a one-dimensional policy toward Pakistan, focusing its high level attention overwhelmingly on President Musharraf to the exclusion of other important political actors in Pakistan and its civil society,” she said. “It is time for this to change.”
Mrs Clinton, who won three key primaries this week to reassert herself as a leading contender for the White House, blamed the Bush administration for ignoring Afghanistan by entering into an unpopular war in Iraq.
Consequently, “Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan have now merged into one of the most dangerous regions of the world, and one of the most strategically important to the United States,” she said.
“The recent Pakistan elections are a key step toward the return of democracy for Pakistan and the establishment of a civilian-led government,” she observed.Mrs Clinton stressed that the Feb 18 elections should send a signal to policymakers in Washington that they need to reassess their policies towards Pakistan.
The former first lady, who is now a senator from New York and a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race, also pledged to increase non-military assistance to Pakistan.
“This aid should be targeted at strengthening democratic institutions, building civil society, and improving economic and educational opportunities,” she said.
“A stable and democratic Pakistan will be a stronger security partner for the United States in the years ahead.”
Mrs Clinton pledged to support improved relations between India and Pakistan and said that promoting a stable relationship between the two neighbours will further contribute to Afghanistan’s long-term stability.
Senator Clinton also promised to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to remove differences between the two countries.
“Providing security to Afghanistan cannot be accomplished without greater security on the Afghan-Pakistan border and greater stability within Pakistan,” she said.
The proposed special envoy, she said, will work with Afghanistan and Pakistan and Nato to develop a regional strategy to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
This strategy would include the provision of needed security aid and expertise to Pakistan while working with Islamabad as a full partner in addressing extremist threats, she added.
The envoy would also attempt to engage Iran to prevent drug smuggling and support the Afghan government.
Mrs Clinton hoped that this would give the United States an opportunity to engage Iran positively in an area where they share common interests.