US responsible for Qaeda escape into Pakistan, says Hillary
* US top diplomat says things would have been different if US had done a better job in Afghanistan against Qaeda
* Says job won’t be finished merely by clearing Swat, Waziristan
WASHINGTON: The US let Al Qaeda off the hook in Afghanistan in 2001 who then escaped into Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded in an interview with FOX News aired late on Monday.
Clinton said she appreciated Islamabad’s campaign against the Taliban in South Waziristan but called for routing Al Qaeda.
Asked if the US was to blame for the surge in violence in Pakistan, Clinton said, “Clearly, Al Qaeda left Afghanistan. And we let them out. We should have taken them out when we had the chance back in 2001 and 2002. And they escaped into Pakistan.”
Better job: “If we had done a better job in Afghanistan and captured the people who had attacked us or killed them, we would be in a different position,’’ she added.
Clinton agreed that any US military strategy in Afghanistan “bleeds’’ into Pakistan. “When we first reviewed taking office, we concluded that you had to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan together and in light of the war on terror... and we are well aware that the stronger partnership we have with Pakistan, the stronger their efforts to root out terrorists in their own country, the better the situation will be” in Afghanistan.
Operations: On the ongoing military offensive, Clinton said, “We’re very impressed. But our point to Pakistan is that it’s a necessary step for you to take. But remember that there is a terrorist syndicate headed by Al Qaeda. You can’t just say your job is done because you’ve cleared out (Swat) and South Waziristan, until we truly root out what is, in my view, the source of the syndicate and a lot of the problems facing Pakistan, Afghanistan and the rest of us.” app