Clinton was also asked Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency in Pakistan this weekend. Clinton said the crisis was caused in part by a “fundamentally incoherent” U.S. policy.
The Bush administration, she said, has “diverted resources, time and attention away from Afghanistan and the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They have sent mixed messages over several years now.”
Senator Joseph Biden, the Delaware Democrat who heads the Foreign Relations committee, warned that withdrawing aid might weaken Musharraf’s hold over the military.
“This is the most dangerous and complex relationship we have,” Biden, who also is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “We have a huge stake, a huge stake, in seeing to it that the moderate majority in Pakistan have a political outlet.”
Another concern is Pakistan’s stability. Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, said yesterday that Pakistan is all the more important because of its nuclear weapons capabilities.
“The worst thing that could happen at this juncture is for us to have that country become one that is held in the hands of extremists, a fundamentalist state with obviously nuclear weapons capability,” Dodd said on CNN.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, campaigning in Iowa for the GOP presidential nomination, said that if Islamic extremists “gain control and we have a radical Islamic government in Pakistan that has nuclear weapons … then we are going to have big, big problems in Afghanistan and we are going to have a lot of problems in the area.”
In the NBC interview, Thompson also said the Bush administration should not suspend financial aid to Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the country’s constitution.
“We have to make sure that whatever happens that we do not see total instability in that country, in that government and we do not see a takeover by radical Muslim elements or terrorist sympathizers,” he said on “Meet the Press.”
I’ll link to others as I find them. What’s emerging from these quotes is that, incoherent as it might be, our policy towards Pakistan is an American policy not just a Bush Administration policy.
Barack Obama (via spokesman Bill Burton)
“Senator Obama condemns the decision by President Musharraf to invoke a state of emergency. President Musharraf has broken his pledge to his own people and to the world to move toward democracy. Pakistan is a critical ally of the United States against terrorism, a nuclear weapons state, and an important nation in South Asia and within the broader Muslim world. It is in the interests of the Pakistani people and the United States to see our ally move toward democracy, as more authoritarian government will only mean more instability, more discontent, and more extremism in Pakistan.
“The United States must be clear and unequivocal: President Musharraf should reverse this declaration, respect the decision of the Supreme Court, and hold free and fair elections for parliament in January. At the same time, the United States must move beyond the Administration’s failed policies of promoting stability over democracy, which has undercut our efforts to root out terrorists in Pakistan. We must start with a serious review of our investments in Pakistan to make sure that U.S. assistance is supporting democracy, not repression; and to ensure that concrete action is being taken against terrorism in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, so that al Qaeda terrorists who threaten America do not continue to have a safe-haven,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Hat tip: comments