ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday the United States wants to work on a process which is open to militant groups, and elements within them, that are willing to sit and discuss a way forward committed to peace and reconciliation in the region.
The US secretary of state was addressing members of civil society, students and traders at a town hall meeting in Islamabad.
On holding talks with militant groups in Afghanistan, Clinton said it was important that they renounce violence, cut all ties with al Qaeda and state willingness to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan.
She said all parties were invited to the process, but their “seriousness and sincerity” would have to be seen.
“Pakistan has the capacity to push and squeeze Haqqanis and the terrorists to engage in a peace process.”
Responding to a question on the presence of Blackwater or Xe in Pakistan, Clinton said that Blackwater no longer existed, and that certain functions of the organisation had merged or had been purchased by others such as Xe.
She said the US used private security companies to protect diplomats and embassies all over the world and that it would not be anything unique to Pakistan if they were present here.
Clinton said she could not disclose which company had the contract for Pakistan.
The secretary of state said the US policy of talks and fighting with militant groups did seem contradictory at first, but it was the only way to convince some elements to come and talk.
She said the US felt strongly about development and was shifting focus from aid to trade with Pakistan, and that they are trying to double efforts to reach out to Pakistani entrepreneurs.
Clinton said she hoped the message of ‘give peace a chance’ is also heard by terrorist elements on both sides of the border.
Responding to a question on flood relief support in 2011, Clinton said the US was the biggest contributor in 2010 but they did not have the flexibility in the budget now.
She said the relationship between Pakistan and the US was critical and important to both sides.
“We cannot give up… once a mother-in-law always a mother-in-law. But perhaps mother-in-laws can learn new ways also… there has to be that kind of give and take,” she said.