Tribute to Holbrooke Clinton defends dialogue with Taliban

Published: April 15, 2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a memorial service for the late U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke at the American Academy in Berlin April 15, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a memorial service for the late U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke at the American Academy in Berlin April 15, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday voiced understanding for talks with the Taliban as she mourned late diplomat Richard Holbrooke, an avid proponent of reconciliation in Afghanistan.

At a memorial service, Clinton credited Holbrooke — who died unexpectedly at the age of 69 in December — with setting the troubled US relationships with Pakistan and Afghanistan on the right track as special envoy to the countries.

“Those who found negotiations with the Taliban distasteful got a very powerful response from Richard — diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends,” Clinton said at the American Academy in Berlin, which was co-founded by Holbrooke, a former ambassador to Germany.

“And negotiating with your adversaries wasn’t a disservice to people who had died, if by talking you could prevent more violence,” Clinton said.

Holbrooke was seen as the main force in President Barack Obama’s administration seeking a political deal in Afghanistan, despite calls by conservatives and the military to try to crush the Taliban insurgency.

Obama has tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan to around 100,000 but his administration has also increasingly signalled it does not believe there is a military solution to the conflict.

Clinton, while supporting the diplomatic push, made clear in talks Thursday with Nato foreign ministers that the United States would stay committed militarily in Afghanistan well beyond a July drawdown date
originally set by Obama.

In Ankara, a close aide to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that Turkey is working to open a political office for the Taliban in Istanbul, the first explicit comments on the plan. “It’s being negotiated right now,” Ibrahim Kalin told the Hurriyet daily, adding the office would be located in Turkey’s largest city.

Earlier Clinton said that the world had prevented a massacre of the sort seen in 1995 in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica through the intervention in Libya. She renewed US vows of support for the Libyan people facing attacks by leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • John
    Apr 15, 2011 - 9:39PM

    Well said., Madam. Reservations aside, hope the Taliban sticks to the deal. Personally, I doubt it. Until then,

    “United States would stay committed militarily in Afghanistan well beyond a July drawdown date”. Recommend

  • haroon
    Apr 15, 2011 - 10:03PM

    that’s the right thingRecommend

  • kazmi
    Apr 15, 2011 - 10:40PM

    just get out of the there … So we Pakistanis can live peacefully!Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim
    Apr 15, 2011 - 10:43PM

    Afghanistan would have been occupied within year or two of Soviet withdrawl,but at that time
    priority was liberation of East Europe and dissolution of Warsaw Pact. To place US and NATO troops at that time even with excuse of preventing another Soviet invasion was not feasible at that time. US had seen Afghanistan as a strategic pivot from where she could use her geo-political hegemony against six nations, five with Muslim majority and the Sixth
    whom she owes debt of Trillions of dollar, to create adverse situation in her Muslim majority
    province. The five Muslim nations being Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan
    and Xiankiang being the Sixth spot. In order to forcibly keep the troops third rate tactics are
    being used by creating terrorist cells in Pakistan. Allowing the Tajiks to dominate the Police
    and defense security of Afghanistan, chasing Pashtuns and creating hurdles in their path to
    force them in joining the Taliban. Then accusing them of not co operating and joining the Taliban to terrorize others. Just as in Iraq they plan to keep bases and three divisions of troops, In Afghanistan they want similar bases to cover Iran and Pakistan and they demand
    that guarntee from the Taliban. If Mullah Umar wants withdrawl of NATO forces and his party accepted as a political force in Afghanistan. Recommend

  • Amna
    Apr 15, 2011 - 11:59PM

    Yet, if a Pakistani leader suggests this, they are Taliban Supporters. What hypocrisy…disgusting.Recommend

  • A
    Apr 16, 2011 - 12:04AM

    So yesterday Shabaz Sharif said, the war in Afghanistan is causing extremism in Pakistan.
    Today Clinton says, there needs to be dialogue with the Taliban as this is a way to prevent further violence.
    Can someone tell me who has been saying this for years now?

    IMRAN KHAN. wake up Pakistan and vote for the real leader next time.Recommend

  • Apr 16, 2011 - 12:21AM

    You created Taliban (Mujahideen) and used them against USSR. Now when they turn up against you and your allies, you are afraid. You guys have now admitted that creating these hooligans (Talibans) was the biggest mistake of yours and now when they are looking like monsters, you are talking about having good relationship with them. Eliminate all of them or get ready for the worse. Thats on the wall.Recommend

  • Apr 16, 2011 - 12:41AM

    clinton is seriously suited to this job!Recommend

  • Tanweer Ahmed
    Apr 16, 2011 - 12:42AM

    Guys, the war on terrorism is a full length drama set by CIA. Just read another news item “Flow of Western militants to Pakistan continues: officials” does’t it suggest that the training camps are run on behest of Pakistani and US officials? Just recall the news stories around Raymond Davis that hinting his involvement in recruiting terrorists. The fact is that under cover of the War against Terror. I feel pity on those poor brain washed terrorists sacrificing their lives for Islam without knowing that as a matter of fact that they are not working against US policies, rather as a tool to implement their agenda in the region and elsewhere. The open secret of American agenda is very simple; after demolition of Soviet empire the ultimate threat to their global imperialism is united Muslism and second part of the agenda is to grab world resources, mainly oil, and minerals, at the same time the third part of the agenda is to control and diminish Chinese influence in the region.
    Do you think that those running terrorist organizations are unaware or do not understand the above? Definately they do, that is why they get funds from the very same whom they pretend to fight against.
    So guys, keep cool, there is neither any war nor any Jihad going on anywhere. But still thousand of people getting killed, innocents and simpleton terrorists. Who cares as far as the stated agendas are achieved.Recommend

  • Adil
    Apr 16, 2011 - 5:01AM

    @Tanweer Ahmed:

    Agree. It was weird that later on they didn’t show Raymond Davis arriving at any airport in USA. What about his wife,relatives etc….? American media didn’t give any coverage to him,neither showed any interview of his anywhere.

    Plus, while talking about Chinese influence,there have been clear indications that CIA somehow is aiding certain separatist movements in China too,most notably the ones in Xinjiang and Tibet. After Afghanistan,USA is playing a role for boosting Islamic militancy in China now. Dalai Lama who keeps on whining about brutality of Chinese in Tibet for the past many decades throughout the globe,actually used to work for/with CIA in their covert operations back in the days.Here’s an interesting link for the readers

    Such is the information which CNN,Fox News,abc,BBC would obviously never want its viewers to know.Recommend

  • Iceman
    Apr 16, 2011 - 6:49AM

    …and when Musharraf said this, everybody had a problem with that. Now suddenly everyone is claiming the wisdom of hind side being 20/20. Mr. Clinton used his influence in cajoling a peace deal between the British and Irish, one was considered a terrorist group by the other, and yet the US were so blind for so long to put the whole world into a turmoil and now they have completed the circle. The only way US can get out of its own financial mess is to some how start a global war and then start fresh at the expense of the world….Recommend

  • DUHast................
    Apr 16, 2011 - 7:38AM

    Ve do not negotiate with terrerists………….Recommend

  • Apr 16, 2011 - 8:54AM

    Can your economy support it? Can your economy repay the outstanding T-Bills? Can your MIC (Military Industrial Complex) employ the teeming millions that are jobless in USA? How are you going to repair the damage done to the global economy by you internet forward options SCAM? What about your big corporations that were supposed to be infallible? Next time try taking your foot out of your mouth before speaking. Recommend

  • John
    Apr 16, 2011 - 9:36PM

    @Nazir Habib:
    The answer to some of the rational questions in your comment is : YES

    For you to comprehend this, you need to understand, International Banking and Finance.

    The rest of your rantings, I ignore.

    Pakistan in her anti-US fervor, does not understand the complex dynamics of the world.

    Taliban are seeking legitimacy for their actions, Pakistan for her inability to control them for various reasons is thinking truce would be a solution. It suits Afghanistan and US, for now, so the deal with devil is better than none.

    Taliban once they regrouped in Ankara, their first claim would be on pashtoonistan against PAK, 30 years from now. US and NATO won’t be interested to intervene.

    Let us not forget why Turkey is the prposed seat of office for Taliban, if it happens.

    Turkey is a fantastic base for money raising, and other activities.

    The choices of Taliban from Turkey are, global, Afghanistan or Pashtoonistan.

    If you were them what would be your first pick? Recommend

  • mussarat
    Apr 17, 2011 - 4:39AM

    @Tanweer Ahmed: Mr. Tanveer I don’t agree with you at all. How one would cut branch of a tree on which he is sitting?

    Can you please answer how extremists can spare others if they are not sparing their own muslim brothers. What is the fault of a common man, women and children or the minorities living in across the country?, just because they are citizens of a country establishment of which
    is against extremism and fanaticsm.

    Why don’t they defend their case before the International Court of Justice instead of attacking facilities inside Pakistan, targeting innocent peoples, minorities and burning churches, imambargah, bombing shrines of highly revered saints.

    Islam or any other religion never permits genocide at any cost, fighting or killing for nothing
    is not Islam. Beloved prophet Muhammed (SAW) never allowed practicising such sort of Islam even during worst period.

    Remember, barbaric acts will only bring bad name to Islam, Pakistan and the Pakistani living abroad, that’s it. Recommend

  • mussarat
    Apr 17, 2011 - 4:58AM


    Mr. Adil for Heaven sake please come up with some solid proof instead of it is ” widely believed”, Please use your pen for promoting love and affection instead of spreading hatred against any specific group, class or the nation. We just implicate ISI, CIA or RAW when fail to submit logical reasons or find solid proof on any issue.

    Yous spoke about Dalai Lama, an exiled Chinese spiritual leader. Sir, who instigated Myamar Leader Ms. Aung Suki to rebel against military junta of her country.

    Sir, this is not the era of global war or instigation, it is only economic power that will help surive nations be it is China or the US.

    I appeal learned scholar like you to please be calm and please try to be a saner instead of living in the world of imagination or “widely believed” because humanity is already facing numerous challenges from various fronts.

    Yours most obedient servant Sir.


  • Tanweer Ahmed
    Apr 18, 2011 - 10:28PM

    Your comments are out of context and does not relate to points raised in my comments.Recommend

  • Adil
    Apr 19, 2011 - 4:26AM

    @ Musarrat

    As mentioned by Tanweer, your comments are out of context and I don’t know what you mean to say. For further info about The Lie Lama just check the following two videos and hope you witness some new perspectives.

  • Khalid Rahim
    Apr 19, 2011 - 11:02AM

    So you will be in Turkey to guide the Taliban delegate in their demand for Pashunistan along with members of your Akhund Baharat Team. Mullah Umar and his inner circle has never raised the issue of Pashtunistan. They have raised the explicit murder of over two thousand Pashtuns by Northern Alliance under supervision of US troops in Nov-Dec 2001. In 2002 it was propagated through different forums that Afghanistan should be bifurcated into Pashtun and non-Pashtun states. The Taliban raised severe objections and swore that
    the division of the country will never be allowed.How about Kabul holdind a referendum to
    ask the Pashtuns whether they want an Independent Pashtunistan and ask the Tajiks, Uzbeks and others if they wish to join with their ethnic motherhood in Central Asia. And that
    Afghanistan will exist no more.Then have the courage to stand in Kabul to find your answer.
    In Pakistan you can have a referendum to ask us whether we want Pashtunistan or cross to Afghanistan; You will be surprised first of all from the reply you get from the Afghan side
    then what we give you from here will put your mind to rest. Incidently if Mullah Umar decides to get baptized by you(JOHN:) in the Helmand river do let me know! Recommend

  • Malik
    Apr 19, 2011 - 3:04PM


    Better you read Newsweek’s article, where it is told that Pakistan is fifth Nuclear Power of the World, and making Nuclear stocks rapidly and USA cannot force Pakistan militarily.

    John you proved yourself an anti-Pakistan person. Pakistanis will not give any importance / value to your baseless comments. Secretary Clinton knows better than you. She is not supportng talks with Libyian regime but Taliban proved their roots in Afghnistan. USA shows willingness after 10 years of military operations, this is not easy and good decision for USA. It means Afghanistan is not so easy.

    Can you able to compare Power of Pakistan in this context. Afghans are our brothers. We can settle our issues, don’t you worry.Recommend

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