Today on MSNBC, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar outlined the demands put forth by her country to the United States during a recent parliamentary review of the relationship between the two nations.
Among the demands, a full apology for the November 2011 friendly-fire incident in Salala that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers; a tax on U.S. military supplies that pass through Pakistan on the way to Afghanistan; and a demand that the CIA halt drone strikes in the country.
Khar told Andrea Mitchell in an exclusive interview, “I think the United States and Pakistan agree on what are their goals and objectives. Where we have differences, which have become apparent in the past few months, is as to what are the tools that should be used to be able to achieve those end objectives.”
Khar said that given the huge monetary and life losses in Pakistan, the relationship between the two countries should “not seen to be an effort which is in the unilateral interests of the United States,” but rather as “an effort which is in the mutual interest of the United States and Pakistan.”
ANDREA MITCHELL: Pakistan plans to dramatically change the way that the American drone war is carried out against Al Qaeda and other terrorists there, the result of relations that have been severely strained since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Today a parliamentary commission in Islamabad released a list of demands – an end to all U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan, a tax on U.S. military supplies that are transported through Pakistan to U.S. forc
es in Afghanistan, and a full apology for that U.S. strike that mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers back in November. Hina Rabbani Khar is Pakistan’s foreign minister and joins me now from Islamabad. Madame Minister, thank you very much for being with us today. This -- these changes, we are told, are likely to go through. What is the main grievance that Pakistan, that your government has, against the U.S. and against the drone war, in particular?
HINA RABBANI KHAR, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Andrea. You know, first of all, I don't think it's a matter of grievance as much as it is about a matter of building a type of partnership which is lasting, which has the ownership of the people of Pakistan, and of course the parliament of Pakistan. And a partnership which can achieve results which are considered to be in the joint interest of both Pakistan and the United States and of course the NATO members, which are operating in Afghanistan.
MITCHELL: You know, and I explained to our viewers, we do have a satellite delay. So, we're doing the best we can with that.
But we've seen in campaign speeches here in the United States, Vice President Biden and others making a very big deal out of the killing of Osama bin Laden saying this shows the strength, the wisdom, the determination of this president, of President Obama, on foreign policy. How does that make you feel in Pakistan?
KHAR: You know, one thing that you missed in talking about grievances, which I think is an unfavorable word to use in the first place, but you missed the Salala incident of November 26 in which, just to remind your audience, Pakistan lost 27 of its soldiers to what is considered to be friendly fire, fire coming in from allies. A fire or a death toll, which is still in some ways, in many minds of Pakistanis, unaccounted for.
So, I would like you to put yourself in those shoes for a moment and think that if 27 body bags were to return to the United States of America, and your public was told that they lost their lives because Pakistani troops fired on them, what would be the level of hostility in the United States of America? I'm quite sure very high. So, this was really the brink of continuing with a relationship or a partnership which was increasingly being seen in Pakistan not to be working for Pakistan. And I think here in the parliament review therefore, we have a unique opportunity to put things correctly. I think this is a unique opportunity to put things right, the type of opportunity that we haven't seen many times before.
What it gives to us in Pakistan and to you in the United States of America is an opportunity to put this partnership on a track which is more lasting, which has the ownership of the people. And in that, what we have to be careful about is that we are married to the end objective of fighting militants, extremism in this part of the world.
However, if we are too married or too attached to some tools which are considered to be violative of Pakistan's sovereignty, Pakistan’s territorial integrity, and the whole spirit of partnership, then I'm afraid we will not be able to meet the type of success that we want to meet in the future.
MITCHELL: I do want to point out that I did say that the one of the demands was for a full apology for that killing by friendly fire of those – more than two dozen soldiers. So, I did mention that as one of the grievances.
But what about bin Laden? How do you feel about the American – about the White House using this as a key point in its campaign for reelection? The killing of Bin Laden on your soil?
KHAN: Pakistan has repeatedly said that bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, was an enemy for Pakistan. Al Qaeda is – I think Pakistani intelligence, Pakistani military has hunted down more al Qaeda operatives than anywhere else in the world. So, al Qaeda happens to be an enemy for Pakistan. There is no denying that.
However, again, as I mentioned, a joint approach, a joint operation, would have obviously been much more useful to carry on the partnership and to carry on efforts to be able to achieve what I am calling common objectives. And I think that is what is important: to look at this as a common objective. To look at us moving towards a common goal because at the strategic plane, I think the United States and Pakistan agree on what are their goals and objectives. Where we have differences, which have become apparent in the past few months, is as to what are the tools that should be used to be able to achieve those end objectives.
And it is not working, one, without ownership of the people of any country, of any place. You can see that in the United States also. When you go to war in a country you have to have ownership of the people of your country to be -- because war is costly, as it has been for Pakistan. We've had losses, colossal, economically, close to $60 billion. We've had losses, colossal, in terms of human life, 30,000 civilians dead; 10,000 paramilitary and military forces together dead. All of these and loss to Pakistan's society, to Pakistan’s way of life, has been colossal.
Now, with that, with those losses, we have to make sure that this is not seen to be our participation in what is considered to be an international effort. It is not seen to be an effort which is in the unilateral interests of the United States, but it's seen to be an effort which is in the mutual interest of the United States and Pakistan. And for that, it is of course extremely important to be able to build that broad ownership that is required for any country to be able to be an effective partner.
MITCHELL: Hina Rabbani Khar, the foreign minister from Islamabad. Pakistan's foreign minister. Thank you very much for joining us today.