Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hillary's Public Diplomacy Rebuked in Pakistan

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's botched attempts at public diplomacy have drawn sharp rebuke from an American in Pakistan. Todd Shea, the head of Comprehensive Disaster Response Services in Pakistan, has criticized Clinton's statements during her recent visit as "insensitive, corrosive, arrogant and flat out wrong". The CDRS is an NGO on the ground in Kashmir and it has been working to provide a field medical center and healthcare services to the earthquake victims in Azad Kashmir since 2005. Like Greg Mortenson's work on building schools, the work done by Todd Shea's relief efforts have engendered positive feelings among Pakistanis toward the Americans. In effect, Greg and Todd have been attempting to fill the vacuum left by the US State Department in practical public diplomacy on the ground in Pakistan.

CDRS says it has worked directly and successfully with nearly every professional organization and major participant working with the earthquake recovery effort in District Muzzafarabad, including The Pakistan Army, Oxfam, Islamic Relief, The Turkish Red Crescent Society, The Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Abbas Hospital, PIMS Hospital, The U.S. Army M*A*S*H, The U.S. Army helicopter forces, The German Army helicopter forces, The Canadian Army DART Team, UNICEF, The World Health Organization, The Canadian Relief Foundation, Concern For Children, SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan, The Alpine Club, Aid In Emergency, The Cuban Government contingent of physicians, The office of The Federal Health Minister of Pakistan, The Office of the AJK Secretary Of Health and The Federal Relief Commission of Pakistan.

Here is the text of an open letter by Shea addressed to Pakistanis and Americans:

Dear America and Pakistan,

I can't believe how insensitive, corrosive, arrogant and flat out wrong U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was with her statements while in Pakistan on what had been billed as an opportunity for the U.S. to reach out to the Pakistani people in a positive way. Thanks to her corrosive attitude and evasiveness when pressed a bit by fair questions from ordinary Pakistanis, the plan backfired. I can't imagine what she was thinking or what got into her. I had really looked forward to her visit and believed she would use her time wisely to be charming and statesmanlike while encouraging Pakistan's people, acknowledging their suffering and extending a hand of committed friendship and making a pledge that America will never again abandon Pakistan and leave them to clean up the mess. Instead, I feel terribly disappointed and feel as though a great opportunity to improve relations was trashed by ill-timed, ill-tempered and divisive remarks.

As she "scolded" Pakistan, bombs were going off all over the place even as even she disrespected her hosts while sitting in a secure environment, while Pakistani citizens who aren't so lucky are dying in their own streets and the Army is going after the bad guys and their extremist ideology that America planted and then abandoned in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan after the Soviet Union was defeated in the 80s, leaving a poor nation to deal alone with the brutal and destructive aftermath of 3 million refugees in Pakistan (still there) and a severe shortage of schools, hospitals, rehabilitation... and Hope. It's not Pakistan's fault that America didn't live up to its lofty principles and instead made horrible decisions that helped steer the world towards a collision course with disaster. If we could spend enormous amounts of money to rebuild our big enemies of Japan and Germany after World War II, why then couldn't we spend some of our money to rebuild our FRIENDS after they helped the U.S. become the World's lone superpower? It's a question that each and every American who loves their country should think deeply about before they go shooting their mouths off about how Pakistan hasn't done enough to fight the terrorism that we allowed to metastasize into a cancer on the entire world though short-sightedness, selfishness, arrogance and probably some racism too.

Americans should take a hard look at our past foreign policy towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan region with regards to collecting, sending, training, arming and supporting extremists to help fight our ideological battles and then abruptly leaving the scene (once our short term strategic global objectives were met) without repatriating foreign fighters, debriefing and disarming indigenous fighters, aiding heartbroken mothers and traumatized children who had never known anything other than war and sorrow, providing better education, opportunity, infrastructure and healthcare so a wartorn place could start anew and begin building a brighter future. Resources were desperately needed and we ignored our responsibilities and forgot about what we and our founding documents stand for. Americans should see our leader's abandonement of the region in the 90s like someone helping to start a wildfire and then leaving the scene, then coming back later while peoples houses are burning to the ground and human beings are engulfed in the flames of terror to publicly scold the brave firefighters who are putting their lives on the line about how they're not doing enough to fight the fire- and then have the arrogant audacity to criticize the victimized families who live in the neighborhood about fire safety.

Americans who are ignorant of the facts or don't understand them should study their history more closely and be willing to "look in the mirror" with some thoughtful introspection on what Afghanis and Pakistanis have suffered for so many years.

As an American who dearly loves his Country and Pakistan and who has spent most of the last four years working on ground to help Pakistanis rebuild their lives from disasters, I wish to apologize to Pakistan's citizens for The Secretary of State's undiplomatic behavior in your suffering nation.

Todd Shea

Here is a video clip of Todd Shea singing Dil Dil Pakistan:

Related Links:

Comprehensive Disaster Relief Service

Missiles versus Schools

Marshall Plan For Pakistan

FATA Fears

Valuing Life in Afghanistan and Pakistan


Anonymous said...

and here is a contrary view of a Pakistani in letters to the editor to dailytimes.

Lost to reason

Sir: it is difficult to digest the hostile reaction of the Pakistani public and media to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit. Recall that she came to Pakistan following the approval of a massive assistance package for Pakistan, specifically aimed at improving the lives of ordinary Pakistanis. If she left exasperated and with the impression that Pakistan, as a nation, is lost to reason, brimming with false pride and seeking solace in conspiracy theories, then, to be honest, she cannot be blamed.

Even now, with all that happened at Peepal Mandi, we seem incapable of discerning between our allies and our enemies. The problems of Pakistan can be solved if we challenge some of our misconceptions and become balanced in our views and actions; and it is high time we did that.

Riaz Haq said...

dcrunch: "and here is a contrary view of a Pakistani in letters to the editor to dailytimes."

I think this guy is just as confused about the concept of public diplomacy as Hillary.

Just think of why Americans like Greg Mortenson and Todd Shea are warmly welcomed and loved in Pakistan and Hillary gets indifference or hostility from the same people.

Riaz Haq said...

LA Times report quotes a Pakistani editorial that says "One cannot help feeling that [Clinton's trip] was an abortive exercise," remarked an editorial in the Nation, an English-language newspaper, "and she went away fully conscious of that failure."

At a televised town hall meeting in Islamabad on Friday, a woman in a mostly female audience characterized U.S. drone missile strikes on suspected terrorist targets in northwestern Pakistan as de facto acts of terrorism themselves. A day earlier in Lahore, a college student asked Clinton why every student who visits the U.S. is viewed there as a terrorist.

The opinions Clinton heard weren't the strident voices of radical clerics or politicians with anti-American agendas. Some of the most biting criticisms came from well-mannered university youths and respected, seasoned journalists, a reflection of the breadth of dissatisfaction Pakistanis have with U.S. policy toward their country.

In those voices, a sense that Pakistan was paying a heavy price for America's "war on terror" rang clear.

"You had one 9/11, and we are having daily 9/11s in Pakistan," Asma Shirazi, a journalist with Geo TV, told Clinton during the Islamabad town hall meeting.

Clinton's visit came at a time when Pakistanis' suspicions about U.S. intentions in their country were at an all-time high.

A five-year, $7.5-billion aid package to Pakistan recently signed into law by President Obama has stoked much of the animosity. Measures in the legislation aimed at ensuring the money isn't misspent have been perceived by Pakistanis as levers that Washington can use to exert control over their country.

Pakistanis also continue to be incensed by U.S. reliance on drone missile strikes to take out top Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border.

CIA-operated drone strikes have killed at least 13 senior Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal areas in the last 18 months. But Pakistani government and military leaders say the strikes have also killed hundreds of civilians and amount to violations of Pakistan's sovereignty.

At the Islamabad town hall meeting, a female student from a university in Peshawar, a city shaken by a car bomb blast Wednesday that killed 118 people, summed up the anger over the drone attacks.

"What is actually terrorism in U.S. eyes?" the woman asked. "Is it the killing of innocent people in, let's say, drone attacks? Or is it the killing of innocent people in different parts of Pakistan, like the bomb blast in Peshawar two days ago? Which one is terrorism, do you think?"

Pressed by the forum's moderator whether she thought U.S. drone missile strikes were tantamount to terrorism, Clinton answered, "No, I do not."

On the one occasion when Clinton struck her own assertive tone, the message appeared to get through. Her suggestion to Pakistani journalists in Lahore that elements within the Pakistani government likely were aware of the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leaders but were not acting on the information struck a chord on the opinion pages of major Pakistani newspapers.

"If we are honest, we cannot deny that much of what she said was true," remarked an editorial that appeared today in the News, a major English-language Pakistani daily.

Riaz Haq said...

Why are Americans like Greg Mortenson and Todd Shea warmly welcomed and loved in Pakistan and Hillary gets indifference or hostility from the same people? ....

Here's a hint: Three Cups of Tea.
What does it mean?

On the first cup, you're a stranger, and on the second, a guest. By the third cup, you're family.

Read more at:

PakDoc said...

pakistanis donot hate americans riaz..they hate the US government.... american citizens themselves hate their govt......why blame us.....pakistanis also hate their own govt.... its the corrupt leadership ppl hate not the it US, Pakistan, India or Afghanistan or any other place in the world.....

i have been born and raised in pakistan, amongst muslims...none were violent or abbusive....have had many shia and sunni friends...none discriminated...these sect discriminations are mostly political...common man doesnot witness it in his/her everyday life...muslims are helpful and loving ppl...they take care of their neighbours and elders...i have met extremely religious ppl but none were violent... donot admix political propoganda with reality...

neither our govt, not US or india's truly represents its ppl...these are a bunch of corrupt elites who take turns in looting their respective countries and in america's case...looting the world....hence the hatred....... social workers like greg mortenson and todd shea, are common americans who r tolerant and respectful of others customs and beliefs.....hence never encounter hatred...instead pakistanis love them and pray for them, in gratitude of their help......

a common american citizen and US govt officials are like apples and oranges..donot mix them.....situation is similar in other democracies of the world....

Anonymous said...


It is a waste of time which pakistani are trying to do with american.

Where did the whole world go when the american are yet to find weapons of mass destruction after the hanging of saddam.

All can say whatever they want but what matters is what is being perceived by the american administration.

Anonymous said...

pakdoc is brilliant. It is the answer of indira gandhi for corruption. It is an universal problem. Same manner is your statement.

pakdoc represents the perfect pakistani. Blame others for their problem

What is society. It is made of people like you and me. What is democracy, it is made of people who are elected by all.

Let us not kid ourself. Please read the It will tell you how much common educated man loves india. That is a different matter that you will not find such an indian blog.

Riaz Haq said...

Hillary is getting negative reviews of her "pathetic performance" in Pakistan. Here's sample comment by Michael Scheuer of Georgetown University as published by National Journal Online:

Mrs. Clinton's pathetic performance in Pakistan today underscores that neither she, the State Department, nor President Obama is what America needs in wartime. Clinton and almost all of our governing elite are worthless caricatures of a leaders so long as they fail to make the protection of the United States the single basis from which all policy flows. Like a hectoring school marm, Mrs. Clinton today told the Pakistanis that she could not believe they did not know the location of Osama bin Laden. Whether or not the Pakistanis know, the reality is that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are America's problem not Pakistan's. Indeed, Pakistan under Musharraf and Zidari have contributed more to the U.S. war in Afghanistan than any of our other allies. Zidari and his Army are now on the verge of seeing their country consumed in a civil war because of what they have done to assist the Bush and Obama administrations. What we need to hear from Mrs. Clinton, Obama, McCain, and the rest is:

"Thanks, Pakistan, for all you have done. We American leaders have behaved as abject, child-like creatures since 9/11 and have looked to use bribery as a tool for enticing other people to do America’s dirty work. That was and is a stupid and cowardly policy. From here on out, we recognize that 9/11 was an act of war against the United States -- not an attack against Western civilization, per Colin Powell’s fatuous claim -- and that we alone are responsible for eradicating those who attacked America. We are capable of doing so, and we intend to do so and end this problem as quickly as possible. "

This is what America needs to hear from Mrs. Clinton. Alas, we will not hear it from her or any other member of the Obama team. We will keep looking for other countries we can bribe to do America's dirty work. Geography may become a problem shortly, however. After Pakistan is gone as a viable state, who will Washington turn to get bin Laden or any other foe who appears? The mighty legions of Turkmenistan, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

She told this also
"“You do have 180 million people. Your population is projected to be about 300 million. And I don’t know what you’re going to do with that kind of challenge, unless you start planning right now,” she said."

I am sure even this would be rebuked. Othewise how else can Pakistanis show they are patriotic.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "She told this also
"“You do have 180 million people. Your population is projected to be about 300 million. And I don’t know what you’re going to do with that kind of challe.."

The same thing can be said of India's over billion people with a government having a worse record than Pakistan's in terms of hunger, poverty, sanitation and other very basic human necessities. UN agencies and various aid orgs from other nations are pumping billions of dollars to provide basic relief to help the poor in India barely survive.

India's share of the world's poorest people has increased to 39 percent from 25 percent in 1980. In comparison, the Below Poverty Line population worldwide has decreased from 1,470 million to 970 million. There are reportedly 301 million Indians below the poverty line, just 19 million less than in 1983. The Human Development Report by the UN has been ranking India among the lowest 60 or 65 countries in the list of 193 nations that are part of the annual study. India's poor performance on this score was in spite of the around nine percent growth rate in its GDP. There are reports in the media about farmers committing suicide or selling their wives to pay mounting debts. Though the recorded figures of such cases aren't high in a big country such as India with 1.17 billion people, it still indicates the desperate state of certain communities.

Riaz Haq said...

Hillary met a number of Pak journalists, including Najam Sethi who revealed what she said in the end:

"Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami asked her why there were so many conditions in Kerry-Lugar, but none in the aid to Israel?

Hilary said there were also many conditions on the Israel aid, but they don't meet many of those, but still the aid continues. Depends on circumstances prevailing at the time of certifications."

What she meant was that Pakistan should just take the money first, and worry about the conditions later. These don't count to anything and if Pakistan does not comply, it would already have received some tranches and the money may still keep flowing through Presidential waivers!

Anonymous said...

"India's share of the world's poorest people has increased to 39 percent from 25 percent in 1980. "

Of course since Riaz says this, it got to be true. I would suggest that you go and update wikipedia which tells otherwise

Also you might want to make a trip to New Delhi and convince Manmohan Singh to go to every country with a begging bowl and ask for zakaat. You can teach him the way you taught Zardari, who has perfected it as an art.

Finally you might want to change influential Foreign Policy magazine which has consistently rated Pak in top 10 failed nations and India a lowly 87th failed nation.


Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India's share of the world's poorest people has increased to 39 percent from 25 percent in 1980. "

"Of course since Riaz says this, it got to be true. I would suggest that you go and update wikipedia which tells otherwise"

There is nothing in the wiki entry that you pointed that contradicts the fact that 39% of the world poor now live in India versus 25% of thye world's poor in 1980.

Other nations have done a far better job of alleviating poverty than India has. And that is also a fact. Just go look at the UNESCAP poverty data that tracks progress.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Telegraph piece from late 2008, when a British commentator questioned a billion pounds sterling aid to India:

May we have our money back, please? Specifically, the £1 billion we donate in aid to India, a country rich enough to enter the space race. What on earth are we doing, pouring UK taxpayers’ money into the maw of a nation that can afford to send rockets to the Moon? g_India_%C3%821_billion_in_aid_if_it_can_afford_Moon_missions/

But the British aid minister Douglas Alexander, the first cabinet minister to visit India's poorest state Bihar, said that despite "real strides in economic growth" there were still 828 million people living on less than $2 a day in India.

UK's Department of International Development says if the UN's millennium development goals - alleviating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates and fighting epidemics such as Aids - are left unmet in India, they will not be met worldwide. Some 43% of children go hungry and a woman dies in childbirth every five minutes.

British Minister Alexander contrasted the rapid growth in China with India's economic success - highlighting government figures that showed the number of poor people had dropped in the one-party communist state by 70% since 1990 but had risen in the world's biggest democracy by 5%.

Anonymous said...

India takes aid for infrastructure projects and returns them in time and interest. That is the reason why the credit rating of india is much stronger than pakistan. All india's external debt to its GDP is very much managable. pak on the other hand, needs aid to pay its bill and has a whopping 30% of its GDP as external debt. Hence near junk rating of its credit.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "All india's external debt to its GDP is very much managable. pak on the other hand, needs aid to pay its bill and has a whopping 30% of its GDP as external debt."

This is incorrect. As of the end of last year, Pakistan's total debt-gdp ratio was about 50% versus India's at 61.3%.

Anonymous said...


Please drink a coffee before posting. From the same CIA cite you took

" Public debt should not be confused with external debt, which reflects
the foreign currency liabilities of both the private and public sector and must be financed out of foreign exchange earnings."

You can do a google on external debt service ratio to see what is classified as reasonable and what is not.

sample here

nearly 33% of Pak's export earning goes in servicing its external debt.

Pakistan's very high ratio of servicing external debt has made its credit rating close to junk. It has the second lowest rating. India's credit rating is much higher.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "nearly 33% of Pak's export earning goes in servicing its external debt."

There's nothing alarming about it. In fact India's $230b external debt and Pakistan's $ 44b are not out of line relative to their gdp, especially when compared to most of the rest of the world.!

Neither Pak nor India show up among the top 20 debtor nations of the world whose external debt significantly exceeds their gdp.

Riaz Haq said...

P Chidambaram has warned Pakistan against meddling in India's affairs and said any more terror, according to news reports. "We have been gaining strength day by day to counter terrorism from across the border. I have been warning Pakistan not to play games with us. (I have told them that) the last game should be Mumbai attacks. Stop it there," he told a public meeting in his home state of Madras last night.

The tough talk by Chida is nothing but a smokescreen to divert attention from India's ongoing covert war against Pakistan that is causing daily civilian carnage.

Pakistan's unambiguous response should be to call Chida's bluff by giving an ultimatum to India to stop using TTP and BLF to kill innocent Pakistanis, or be prepared to face the consequences.

Riaz Haq said...

A Washington publication the Hill" has a report on Pak Ambassador Haqqani's "candid assessment" of US-Pak relations:

Husain Haqqani offered a candid assessment of where Pakistan stands at my IFE / INFO Global Connections Public Policy Roundtable last Friday. In addition to being Pakistan’s youngest ambassador to the U.S., Haqqani was a strong advocate of the late Benazir Bhutto, who stood as a symbol of democracy in a country where dictatorship has long prevailed. 

Pakistanis, Haqqani noted, believe that the U.S. has long used their country, not engaged it. Hillary Clinton’s trip there was significant to the extent that they saw a different side of our country. In attending town halls and visiting colleges and universities, she tried to demonstrate that the U.S. is genuinely concerned with Pakistan’s welfare. Polls showed that Pakistani approval ratings of the U.S. went up by 7 percent after her visit. Unfortunately, though, one high-profile visit is unlikely to do much, because many of the country’s woes are historically rooted. Pakistanis had no idea what suicide bombers were prior to 9/11. The U.S. supported radical Islamists in their fight against the Soviet Union, but it’s precisely those Islamists who are now waging jihad across the globe, including in Pakistan; many Pakistanis regard the Taliban as an existential threat to their country.

Although Pakistan’s economy is back on track (largely due to IMF lending), insecurity limits its ability to achieve sustained economic growth. It shares a border with a hostile neighbor (India), with a desperately poor country in which the Taliban is reasserting its influence (Afghanistan), and with a nation that’s in the midst of tremendous domestic upheaval (Iran). Being in a near-constant struggle against internal and external threats, real and imagined, has its consequences: Pakistan spends far more on defense than education, with the result that the country has only a 38 percent literacy rate. As both Ambassador Said Jawad of Afghanistan and Ambassador Husain Haqqani say, "We live in a dangerous neighborhood."

Haqqani noted that India is perhaps the biggest elephant in the room. Pakistan is wary of the Indo-U.S. relationship, which is robust and multifaceted. He mentioned that India is Boeing’s largest customer, and also that 26 members of the Obama administration are Indian-American; facts like these naturally make Pakistan nervous.

As much as it’s concerned with India, Pakistan is also anxious to see how its relationship with the U.S. evolves. Haqqani noted that Pakistanis want to receive credit for their counterterrorism efforts; Pakistan has killed or captured more al Qaeda leaders than has any other country. He concluded by saying that the U.S. won’t truly be able to win hearts and minds there until it adopts a more comprehensive engagement strategy — one that has a political element and a socioeconomic element. Haqqani encouraged American companies to invest in Pakistan, offering a Thomas Friedman-like thought that Pakistanis need to be making boxer shorts for Wal-Mart, not boxes of bombs.

Whether or not that hope is realized will depend a lot on how Pakistan’s military fares against the Taliban. Let’s hope that it succeeds.

Kathy Kemper is founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a nonprofit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership and civility locally, nationally and in the world community.