Dr. Hassan Abbas (who, among many other accomplishments, is Vice President of MDF), was recently invited to interview Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Below is a portion of the interview, which can be found in full at his website.
Hassan Abbas: During your recent visit to Pakistan, you won the hearts of many through your courageous outreach – visiting Badshahi mosque, participating in television talk shows, interacting with students at countryâ€™s premier educational institution Government College Lahore, and most importantly going to the mausoleum of Mohammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher who gave the idea of Pakistan. Even those who are critical of the U.S. policy were appreciative of these gestures and it served an important message to those Pakistani politicians also who are not in touch with masses.
Secretary Clinton: Well, first, the resilience and the courage of the Pakistani people. Everywhere I went, I met people who are speaking out and standing up and working hard, and that was extremely moving to me. I also felt like both the civilian government and the military leadership understood that the threat they faced had to be addressed.
And I thought that was very promising, because the terrorist threat to Pakistan is growing and itâ€™s intense and it can only be defeated by the Pakistani people coming together and rejecting it, in the first instance, trying to present a different narrative than the one that the terrorists are putting forth, using military force where they must, but mostly by developing the democratic institutions, by developing the country, clearly demonstrating that Pakistan has no room for those who want to tear down, because the Pakistan people want to build.
Hassan Abbas: During the said trip you also visited Police offices in Islamabad to pay tribute to the sacrifices rendered by police officials in the fight against extremism. You are the first and so far the only foreign leader visiting Pakistan who thought of this. It is becoming clear in Pakistan that the country will not be able to win this battle especially in areas like Punjab and Karachi unless its law enforcement and police forces are reformed and upgraded. I must confess that this topic is of special interest to me as before my academic career in the US, I was a police official in Pakistan. Also Pakistan army cannot be expected to fight everywhere in the country. In this context, will the US be supporting police and law enforcement reform agenda in Pakistan?
Secretary Clinton: Well, we would be honored to do so, because I agree with you that the police truly are on the front lines. They often have to deal with the rush of violence that comes in cities or towns and they donâ€™t have the support they need, they donâ€™t often have the equipment that they need. And as you say, I met a number of police officers, both in Lahore and in Islamabad, who are very committed, but under-resourced. And I am more than happy to consider any request from the Pakistani Government to help the police force, because I agree completely that theyâ€™re the front line of defense.
For the full text, please click here.