US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dubbed the anti-Islam film as “disgusting and repulsive”, but also condemned violent protests in Pakistan saying “violence cannot be tolerated”.
Speaking to reporters with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar before their scheduled meeting at the Department of State, Clinton thanked Pakistan’s government for its efforts to protect American embassy and Consulates.
She urged people everywhere to stand up and speak up against violence. She added that these protests should not be hijacked by people with extremist agendas.
Clinton said that while the past year and a half has been challenging for the Pakistan-US relationship, both countries still had work to do together.
“We can achieve more when we have a focused agenda,” Clinton said and added that she was looking forward to seeing President Asif Ali Zardari next week at the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Our shared priority remains joint counterterrorism objectives to ensure security of US and Pakistani citizens.”
Thanking Foreign Minister Khar for reopening the Nato supply routes, Clinton said they would talk about Afghanistan, especially on the meeting of the safe passage working group.
Clinton added that she agreed that the US needed to shift from aid to trade and investment in Pakistan, and expressed hope that a bilateral investment treaty would be finalised soon.
Khar said the condemnation of the sacrilegious video by Clinton and President Obama had sent a strong message that the US government does not support it.
She added that the two countries needed to build together on the architecture of mutual trust and each country’s national interests.
Khar said terrorists of all breeds and races threatened both Pakistan and the United States. The two countries have a unique opportunity to work together on Afghanistan and ensure there is no security vacuum during the transition period in Afghanistan, she added.
The Clinton-Khar meeting was ongoing at the time of filing this report, and was scheduled to last for two hours.
Expected attendees included Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, Pakistan’s Ambassador Sherry Rehman and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2012.