U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today sressed that the United States is supporting civil societies in Pakistan in combatting extremism during an interview with Moeed Pirzada of Pakistan TV.
During the interview, Ms. Clinton said the United States has worked to support civil society in Pakistan for many years. She highlighted that they have reached the conclusion that they must do even more, and they need guidance and direction and suggestions from civil society itself.
“If you look at the vibrancy of the Pakistani culture, there is so much interaction, and this is certainly not a shy society, as I have learned over the years. You have a very dynamic free press. You have a lot of people who are speaking out on all kinds of issues.” – Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton said she was worried about the intimidation factor from the extremists. She said people should be able to express, in a democracy, competing views.
“And you may disagree and take that person to task, but it should not be the reason for murder. It should not be, as I tragically saw, the death of Governor Taseer and Minister Bhatti and others who have a right, as Pakistani citizens, to express their views.” -Ms. Clinton
She stressed that if civil society gets intimidated and their space shrinks, the society suffers, not just the individuals.
“So our ambassador, Ambassador Munter, and I were actually talking about this just yesterday, and we are going to be seeking advice from you about what more we can do to support civil society and differing points of view within your country.” – Ms. Clinton