Islamabad: On October 8, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman conducted an interview with Tolo TV in Kabul, Afghanistan. The following is an edited transcript of the original full-length interview.
Ambassador Marc Grossman Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Mujahid Kakar for Tolo TV – October 8, 2011
Mujahid Kakar: Mr. Ambassador, the relation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and on the other hand Pakistan and United States is at a critical stage. How do you think it will impact the war against terror? Especially with the United States accusing Pakistan of having a link with some Taliban groups like Haqqanis?
Ambassador Grossman: It’s absolutely right that the question of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States in the war on terror is a very important one. One of the things that I think is worth saying out loud, right in front, is that the number of Pakistani civilians who have been killed in terrorist attacks is just enormous.
Nineteen thousand Pakistani civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2003. So the way I look at this is that extremism and terrorism is a threat to Pakistan, and it’s a threat to Afghanistan, and it’s a threat to the United States. We ought to, all three of our countries, be able to work together to try to deal with this problem.
One of the things that’s happening between Pakistan and the United States is we’re trying to have a conversation about how to get our interests shared and then act on them together. You see what President Obama had to say just the other day [insert link to transcript] about the importance of Pakistanis focusing in on the terrorist question.
What we continue to talk about is the need for engagement between the United States and Pakistan. And if I might add, also the need for engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Mujahid Kakar: Mr. Ambassador, for most of Afghans, they ask questions that you accuse [Pakistan] that they have some link with the groups, like the Haqqani network. So when you provide help to these Pakistanis, like the Pakistan Army and other institutions in Pakistan, you actually pay them or give them money to kill in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Grossman: I don’t think that’s right. We’re trying to have a relationship with Pakistan, as I say, to see if we can identify our shared interests and then act on them together. Pakistan has some very important work to do in the anti-terrorism area, and that’s especially true with the Haqqani network.
But as I say, I don’t think this should be of any great surprise, because this extremism and terrorism is a threat to Pakistan, and we ought all to be working together to try to deal with this question.
But again, President Obama has spoken about this, Secretary Clinton, other leaders in the United States [have also spoken to this], and that is to say that Pakistan has some work to do on counter-terrorism, and we’d like them to do it.
Mujahid Kakar: Recently Pakistan had an All-Parties Conference, and during that conference, all parties come to the conclusion that the United States cannot ask Pakistan to do more, and they think the war against terror is not Pakistan’s war.
They think it is a U.S. war. You put pressure on the government of Pakistan, asking them to do more. You ask them to end their support for networks like Haqqani. So what should you do? Ambassador Grossman: Three things. First of all, I’ll leave the All-Party Conference to the Pakistanis.
Pakistani politics is for Pakistanis. But what strikes me in talking to people in Pakistan – parliamentarians, members of civil society — is that they recognize that terrorism and extremism are a threat against them. Again, large numbers of Pakistani civilians have died in this fight, and large numbers of Pakistani military people have died in this fight as well. So this seems pretty clear to me.
The second thing is, I want to be absolutely clear in answering your question. Pakistan and the United States actually have collaborated extremely effectively on the question of al-Qaida. You know that President Obama has said on a number of occasions that we have killed and captured more al-Qaida terrorists in Pakistan than in any other country in the world. As he said the other night, that would not have happened without the efforts between Pakistan and the United States.
But when it comes to the Haqqani network and others, I say, along with the leaders of my country, that Pakistan has some work to do, we want them to do it, and we want this relationship between Pakistan and the United States, as I say, to be focused on shared interests, acted on together.
Mujahid Kakar: The U.S. top soldier, Admiral Mullen, made a statement that the Haqqani network in a recent attack on the U.S. Embassy and the ISAF headquarters in Kabul did the job closely in contact with the ISI. So if the U.S. top soldier says something like this, how could you think that the trust deficit between your government – and also not only Mike Mullen, the Pentagon, the State Department, and every single institution in United States put a finger on Pakistan? That they have this terrorist group.
I will also draw your attention to President Karzai, during the last ten years he always asks that if you want to fight terrorism, go beyond our boundaries to Pakistan because their [terrorist] sentries are in Pakistan. You should fight terrorism not in our villages, you should go to their sanctuaries in Pakistan.
Ambassador Grossman: We’re trying to deal with it, as I’ve been trying to describe to you, by trying to set a standard in our relations with Pakistan, which is to say that they need to work on their terrorism problem. They know that. And secondly, to try to have a relationship with Pakistan based on shared interests that we can act on together.
Now one of the really important things I think for your audience is, you were very right to say Admiral Mullen’s statement. The President’s statement. Secretary Clinton’s statements. But let’s take all those statements together. What are they also saying? That you have to continue to engage with Pakistan. Admiral Mullen said so, others have said so. So this is a hard problem but we need to engage with Pakistan and work together.
A third point, and I think this is very important, is the point that you make that President Karzai has made, which is that we need to deal with these problems. And one of the things that you can see consistently through American statements is that we will call on Pakistan to end the safe havens and enablers that allow people to come into Afghanistan and attack Afghans, attack Americans, and attack our friends and our allies.
Mujahid Kakar: So do you think there is any positive sign on the Pakistani side?
Ambassador Grossman: I have to think that if I were a Pakistani citizen and a member of the Pakistani government, I would recognize, and I think that they do, that extremism and terrorism is a threat to them. And that it’s time altogether we started to deal with these problems.
Mujahid Kakar: If the Pakistanis do not show any positive sign to fighting these terrorist groups, what do you do? What will the U.S. government do against these terrorist groups?
Ambassador Grossman: I would think the opposite, which is to say I believe it’s now the opportunity and the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to start to deal with these problems. And don’t forget, the government of Pakistan and the government of the United States have worked very closely together on questions of al-Qaida. So there are other questions now. Again, the government of Pakistan to me recognizes that extremism and terrorism is a threat to them, so now it’s time to deal with these questions.
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