ISLAMABAD: Offering sympathy for victims of today’s terrorist bombing, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised Pakistan’s offensive against extremists and pledged US support at a critical point in the country’s history.
“Pakistan is in the midst of a struggle against tenacious and brutal extremist groups who kill innocent people and terrorise communities,” she told a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, just hours after a car bomb killed 92 people and wounded more than 200 at a Peshawar market, about a three-hour drive from the capital.
“I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan’s alone,” Clinton said. “These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well.” Appearing with her, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the violence would not break his government’s will to fight back.
“The resolve and determination will not be shaken,” Qureshi said. “People are carrying out such heinous crimes — they want to shake our resolve. I want to address them: We will not buckle. We will fight you. We will fight you because we want peace and stability in Pakistan.” Clinton said her visit — the first since she became secretary of state — was designed to chip away at anti-Americanism in this predominantly Muslim nation and to offer US support for the government’s assault on extremism. Qureshi praised her for coming, saying, “This visit of yours will build bridges” between Pakistanis and Americans. “This visit is well-timed.”
Just hours after Clinton’s arrival in the country, the car bomb tore through a crowded market in the northwestern city of Peshawar in the latest attack apparently aimed at denting public backing for a recently launched army offensive against al-Qaida and Taliban close to the Afghan border.
Clinton said the Obama administration intends to do more to support Pakistan on a wide range of issues.