Hillary against direct action

July 27, 2007

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WASHINGTON, July 26: US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said if America sends its troops to the tribal region, they should go with Pakistani troops and not on their own.

At a fund-raising dinner arranged for her by the National Association of Pakistani-Americans, she rejected the suggestion by some US officials and lawmakers that the United States should conduct unilateral military operations in the tribal region to destroy alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens.

Such a move, she said, would not produce the desired results and would create new problems. Only a combined effort by the Pakistani and US troops could destroy militant hideouts in the area, she added.

Ms Clinton said that in January she visited Pakistan and discussed the US-led war against terrorism with President Gen Pervez Musharraf. She said she agreed with the Pakistani leader that the two countries needed to work together to defeat extremists because this war could not be won without such cooperation.

She also emphasised the need for combining military tactics with an economic strategy to address the root causes that bred extremist ideologies.

Ms Clinton said Pakistan not only faced a threat from Al Qaeda and Taliban elements hiding in the tribal territory, but also from extremists living inside the country. To defeat terrorism, she said, it was as important to win the battle for hearts and minds as to win military battles.

Talking about issues confronting the Islamic world, Ms Clinton recalled that when her husband was the president he had invited the leaders of the Middle East to the Camp David presidential resort to forge a peace deal.

The meeting did not produce positive results but later the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called Mr Clinton to tell him that he was willing to accept all the proposals discussed at Camp David.

“By then, it was too late and Mr Clinton’s term was already coming to an end,” she said.

Ms Clinton said the Pakistani-American community was one of the most successful and talented communities in the US and many of them had achieved their ‘American dreams’ of prosperity.