Post-Bin Laden: New tiff over Zawahiri

Published: May 8, 2012

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves the Taj Hotel in Kolkata. PHOTO: REUTERS


The United States ups the ante, again.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that her country believes al Qaeda kingpin Ayman al Zawahiri is hiding somewhere in Pakistan.

“The US will go after militant groups in Pakistan,” the top US diplomat told an interactive session at the La Martiniere School for Girls in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal on the second day of her three-day tour.

“We want to disable al Qaeda. We have made lots of progress,” she added.

Al Zawahiri’s predecessor Osama bin Laden was killed in a top-secret raid by US special forces in a compound in Abbottabad in May, last year. The unilateral raid brought to the fore the mistrust that exists between the two allies in the global war against terrorism.

Secretary Clinton said it was believed that al Zawahiri, an Egyptian cleric, was in Pakistan. “There are several significant leaders still on the run. Al Zawahiri, who inherited the (al Qaeda) leadership from Bin Laden, is somewhere, we believe, in Pakistan. We want to go after them,” he added.

In a move that was likely to sour already fraught Pakistan-US tensions, Clinton said Islamabad was not doing enough to tackle terrorism. She added that Washington was keeping up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on the main accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

“Pakistan has lost far more people than India and the US (due to terrorism). Thirty thousand lives have been lost in Pakistan in terrorist attacks. It is in their interest that Pakistan should deal with the problem of terrorism,” she said.

Clinton said she had personally authorised a $10 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed’s militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, is accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people. Earlier, confusion had reigned over the bounty when US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter insisted that the United States was not offering it.

Clinton said she was “well aware that there have not yet been steps taken by the Pakistani government” that could help in securing Hafiz Saeed’s conviction.

“We’re going to be pushing that point. So it’s a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that,” Clinton said referring to the bounty.  “You have to go after those who are trying to kill you. You have to be focused on that … We want everybody who is associated with that (Mumbai attack) brought to justice. And it may take longer than any one of us like. But we are going to be standing with you and trying to make that happen,” Clinton said to applause. “We are all aware that Pakistan has not done as much as the US and India wanted to fight terrorism,” she added.

Oil imports from Iran

Secretary Clinton also leaned on India to cut its imports of Iranian oil further, and said Washington may not make a decision on whether to exempt New Delhi from financial sanctions for another two months. She said the United States was encouraged by the steps its ally had taken to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil, but that ‘even more’ was needed. New Delhi does not want to be seen to be caving in to US pressure and also has to satisfy the fast-growing energy demands of its economy, Asia’s third-largest, and look after its own strategic interests: Iran provides it with access to Afghanistan. Clinton’s trip coincided with a visit by an Iranian trade delegation, which was in Delhi to discuss trade via a rupee mechanism set up to skirt sanctions. US officials played down the timing.


Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Arindom
    May 8, 2012 - 4:39AM

    From an Indian perspective – keep up displaying carrots of market acess and arms imports to the US; maintain existing strong ties with Iran. US relations is invaluable for India, but India also needs Iran for oil, for Afghanistan and to balance the Arabs.


  • bangash
    May 8, 2012 - 5:07AM

    Clever statement by Mrs Clinton…make India happy and infuriate Pakistani establishment.


  • Blithe
    May 8, 2012 - 5:21AM

    Pathetic display in India !

    She didn’t even have the moral courage to mention

    Clinton is hypocrisy personified.


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 8, 2012 - 5:26AM

    This is to create public opinion in favor of drone attacks and to put pressure. More names to come out in near future and no more hiding behind the diplomatic nicities.Atleast Hafeez Sayed is out of public view,


  • edno
    May 8, 2012 - 6:35AM

    in the name of azawahri etc..
    whole pakistan would be attacked, wow
    what an idea sir g.?


  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    May 8, 2012 - 7:27AM

    I believe her. She was right when she said it for Bin Laden last time. I cannot believe Pakistan military to say otherwise. Zawahiri must be in Pakistan as was his boss found out to be.


  • AnisAqeel
    May 8, 2012 - 7:32AM

    It will be a great service to our beloved Pakistan and to humanity that when this evil is found, destroy him and destroy its protectors also.


  • John B
    May 8, 2012 - 7:37AM

    Mrs Clinton is one of the strong friends PAK has at this moment. From this press statement it is clear she is very unhappy with PAK. She is not someone PAK can afford to fool around with.


  • Imran Con
    May 8, 2012 - 7:54AM

    Nobody cares about Kashmir. It’s over and done with internationally as far as opinions of the issue are concerned. You really don’t want anyone speaking out about Kashmir, anyways. Pakistan would be the one getting the negative attention because they refuse to do what needs to be done. You tell India to do exactly what was intended for Pakistan to do. Pakistan is the problem. If people responded to all of Pakistan’s crying about one thing or another they’d never have a minutes rest.
    Kashmir is your mess to clean up and make no mistake, Kashmir’s condition is Pakistan’s fault.


  • Chulbul Pandey
    May 8, 2012 - 8:05AM

    @Blithe: She didn’t even have the moral courage to mention Kashmir.
    A conspiracy theory states that she wanted to, along with Baluchistan and Sindhudesh but decided to drop it altogether. Cheers!


  • May 8, 2012 - 8:19AM


    There are many things she didn’t mention- Balochistan, Xinjiang. But, you don’t want her to mention them, do you. Only Kashmir. I wonder why!


  • NaK
    May 8, 2012 - 8:22AM

    O come on! they havn’t any prove agaisnt Hafiz Saeed, now Ayman al Zawahiri.


  • ayesha_khan
    May 8, 2012 - 8:33AM

    @Blithe: “She didn’t even have the moral courage to mention

    China is a bigger market and holds 3 trillion dollars of US treasury bonds. She still spoke about the Chinese dissident and also about the Tibet problem.

    Is it possible that the reason she did not mention Kashmir is because now that US has become familiar with Pak duplicity they understand that India’s complaints since early 1990s were legitimate.


  • May 8, 2012 - 8:40AM

    No matter how much pressure US puts on Pakistan, I am sure Pakistan will not give up Zawahiri.

    I won’t be surprised if he is moved to some safe location like in Karachi or Islamabad or Rawalpindi, where USA will not attack with Drones or an Helicopter raid.

    But, I hope the whereabouts are revealed openly so that the entire World knows the duplicitousness of the Terrorist hosts.


  • Harry Stone
    May 8, 2012 - 8:58AM


    This is of no interest to the US. It has already cast its lot with India on this issue. It is part of the US reset of relations with PAK. Get use to it.


  • Raw is War
    May 8, 2012 - 9:03AM

    sea burial- 2.


  • May 8, 2012 - 9:35AM

    Some random house will be attacked, zahwari will be burried in sea and it will become fact that Zahwari was hiding in Pakistan. Those who will question this, will be called as conspiracy theory believer :)


  • Polpot
    May 8, 2012 - 9:55AM

    Ms Clinton’s statements re Pakistan show the degree of esteem that US holds Pakistan in.
    Wonder Why?


  • Blithe_ka_Baap
    May 8, 2012 - 10:13AM

    Pathetic display in India !

    She didn’t even have the moral courage to mention

    Baluchistan, Sindh, Xinjiang, Tibet.

    Clinton is hypocrisy personified.


  • realist
    May 8, 2012 - 5:10PM

    “Clinton’s trip coincided with a visit by an Iranian trade delegation, which was in Delhi to discuss trade via a rupee mechanism set up to skirt sanctions. US officials played down the timing.”

    I wonder if US access to AF via Chahbahar port is being worked out.


  • Kaalchakra
    May 8, 2012 - 5:21PM

    The ultimate goal of Americans, Indians, and Israelis is to declare every person in Pakistan a terrorist and destroy Pakistan.Watch out. Don’t be taken in by imperialists.


  • j. von hettlingen
    May 9, 2012 - 3:06AM

    Clinton said, “Thirty thousand lives have been lost in Pakistan in terrorist attacks. It is in their interest that Pakistan should deal with the problem of terrorism”. True, but with nearly 190 million inhabitants, 30.000 are nothing in the eyes of the ISI and the military. These rogues are not risking their lives but other people’s.


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