US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton is suggesting that Pakistan’s government has squandered chances to kill or capture al-Qaida leaders.
She made the remark in an interview yesterday with Pakistani journalists during a trip to the city of Lahore. She later flew to the capital, Islamabad, for talks with army chief and additional meetings.
Clinton said al-Qaida has used Pakistan as a haven since 2002. She said she finds it hard to believe that nobody in Pakistan’s government knows where the leaders of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network are hiding.
She also said she finds it hard to believe that Pakistani authorities couldn’t “get them” if they wanted to.
Clinton said that Pakistan had little choice but to take a more aggressive approach to combating the Pakistani Taliban and other insurgents that threaten to destabilize the country.
With the country reeling from Wednesday’s devastating bombing that killed at least 105 people in Peshawar, Clinton engaged in an intense give-and-take with students at the Government College of Lahore, insisting that inaction by the government would have ceded ground to terrorists.
“If you want to see your territory shrink, that’s your choice,” she said, adding that she believed it would be a bad choice.
Dozens of students rushed to line up for the microphone when the session began. Their questions were not hostile, but showed a strong sense of doubt that the U.S. can be a reliable and trusted partner for Pakistan.
Clinton met with the students on the second day of a three-day visit to Pakistan, her first as secretary of state. The Peshawar bombing, set off in a market crowded with women and children, appeared timed to overshadow her arrival. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since 2007.
Clinton likened Pakistan’s situation — with Taliban forces taking over substantial swaths of land in the Swat valley and in areas along the Afghan border — to a theoretical advance of terrorists into the United States from across the Canadian border.
It would be unthinkable, she said, for the U.S. government to decide, “Let them have Washington (state)” first, then Montana, then the sparsely populated Dakotas, because those states are far from the major centers of population and power on the East Coast.
Clinton was responding to a student who suggested that Washington was forcing Pakistan to use military force on its own territory. It was one of several questions from the students that raised doubts about the relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
During her hour-long appearance at the college, Clinton stressed that a key purpose of her three-day visit to Pakistan, which began Wednesday, was to reach out to ordinary Pakistanis and urge a better effort to bridge differences and improve mutual understanding.
“We are now at a point where we can chart a different course,” she said, referring to past differences over an absence of democracy in Pakistan and Pakistani association with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
As a way of repudiating past U.S. policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students “there is a huge difference” between the Obama administration’s approach and that of former President George W. Bush.
“I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him,” she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students. “So, to me, it’s like daylight and dark.”
Although Clinton said she was making a priority of engaging frankly and openly on her visit, she declined to talk about a subject that has stirred some of the strongest feelings of anti-Americanism here — U.S. drone aircraft attacks against extremist targets on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border.
The Obama administration routinely refuses to acknowledge publicly that the attacks are taking place.
“There is a war going on,” she said, and the U.S. wants to help Pakistan be successful.
The drone attacks have killed a number of Pakistani civilians, while also reportedly succeeding in eliminating some high-level Taliban and other extremist group leaders.
At the same time, though, the U.S. has been providing Pakistani commanders with video images and target information from its military drones as Pakistan’s army pushes its ground offensive in Waziristan, U.S. officials said earlier this week.
Also sensitive is the way the U.S. has handled millions of dollars in aid to the Pakistani military. The U.S. in recent months has rushed helicopters and other military equipment to the country as Islamabad has launched its counterinsurgency offensives in Swat Valley and South Waziristan.
The administration sped the delivery of 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters starting in June, and in July sent 200 night vision goggles, nearly more than 9,000 sets of body armor, several hundred radios and other equipment.
“We’ve put military assistance to Pakistan on a wartime footing,” Lt. Col. Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “We are doing everything within our power to assist Pakistan in improving its counterinsurgency capability.”
This year the Pentagon plans to spend more than $500 million on arms and equipment for Islamabad as well as training Pakistan’s military in counterinsurgency tactics. Still, Pakistani officials last month complained that Congress attached too many conditions to the surge in aid.
Before flying to Lahore from Islamabad, Clinton visited the Bari Imam shrine, named after Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, a 17th century Sufi saint who died in 1705 and later came to be known as the patron saint of Islamabad. A suicide bomber struck the shrine in May 2005, killing a number of people.
2023: Lawyers’ Group Urges Wike To Run For President
The Chairman, League of Patriotic Lawyers, Abubakar Yesufu, has called on Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike to join the presidential race.
He said Wike’s performance as governor shows that he would provide good governance if elected as President of Nigeria.
Briefing newsmen, last Thursday, in Lagos, Yesufu urged Nigerians to support Wike should he heed the call to run.
According to him, “All those currently parading themselves as candidates cannot match Nyesom Wike’s impeccable credentials. Wike has demonstrated clearly that he is ready and eminently qualified for the job, come 2023.
“In education, infrastructure, housing, healthcare delivery, agriculture, social welfare, sports, arts and culture, Wike stands out like a giant amongst midgets.
“Indeed, Nyesom Nwike’s strides among his peers, have earned him the name Mr Project. The name was reemphasised by no less a personality than the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
“We are entering a defining moment the nation’s history. There is a sacred duty on all men and women of good will: Christian or Muslim, PDP or APC to rescue Nigeria from the abyss of destruction from which she is dangerously headed.
“The prospect of making APC return because of lack of good choice is scary and unthinkable.
“Wike has the knack and daring courage and his achievements in Rivers State, a highly cosmopolitan state, are eloquent testimonies of the preparedness of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“I would be taking this message across the country, especially the youths, whose votes might be compromised on the altar of idealism.
“We are going to redirect the orientation and thinking of the youths to ensure those who muffled their voices on the quest for better Nigeria, either at Lekki toll gate, Alausa, Wuse in Abuja or Kafanchan, are not allowed to stage a comeback to power.”
Identify Illegal Refinery Sites, Operators Now, Wike Orders LG Chairmen …Demands Transfer Of DPO, NSCDC Officer Implicated In Act …Promises N2m Bounty On Each Site
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 local government chairmen to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdiction.
Wike gave the ultimatum at a meeting with the council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, the Directorate of State Service (DSS), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at Government House, last Friday.
The governor challenged the council chairmen to prove that they were not complicit in the noxious business that has continued to threaten the health of Rivers people and the national economy.
Wike stated that as a responsible government, it would be unwise for them to fold their hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the state from the death that is forced upon them by criminal-minded operators of artisanal refineries.
“Now, every council chairman must go and identify where illegal refineries are taking place. If you identify one, you get N2million. So, go and identify as many as you can. I will pay N2million for each one. And I am going to fight against this. Our people are dying, and we owe our people the responsibility to protect them, to save them from death they never caused.
“So, you must, and you’re given 48 hours to go and identify all illegal refinery sites, and those who are in charge of them.”
Wike emphasised that any of the council chairmen who is afraid to join in the fight against the criminals operating the illegal refineries should be ready to resign.
According to the governor, part of their social contract with their people was also to protect them and stop any illegal economic practices in their domains.
“I’ve called you here to tell you that it’s a total war. It is either we do it or we don’t do it. We cannot allow what is going on to continue. Two things: our people are dying; it’s shortening our own revenue.
“You check from Federation Account, Akwa Ibom and Delta states are getting more, why? Because, these boys of the cartel have caused so much problems for us. So, we will not allow it.”
The Rivers State governor also frowned at security agencies for the role some of their personnel have played in aiding and providing cover to the operators of the illegal refineries in the state.
The governor urged the state Police Commissioner, Mr Eboka Friday, to redeploy out of the state, a particular DPO in Emohua Local Government Area who operates an illegal refinery in the area.
“It’s unfortunate for this country how security people will be involved in illegal bunkering. I can’t believe it. Mr. CP, I thank you for transferring the DPO in Rumuji, who owns a refinery. But the man must leave here, not transferred. He must leave this state. I can’t be governor here and a security man owns an illegal refinery. No, it is not possible…the man has to go. Take him to wherever they allow bunkering.”
Wike directed the CP to immediately arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and Chief Promise Ezekwe, who have been fingered for operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor further urged the commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State Command, to immediately transfer its personnel in charge of vandalisation of pipelines in the state.
“Transfer the man, and tell him to leave. He is a complete saboteur. I mean, how can security men be the ones involved in this? What kind of country are we?”
The governor urged the DSS to profile persons involved in the heinous illegal refining business, and make the list available to him, and assured of acting on the list.
Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike had vowed not to spare anyone involved in the illegal bunkering and artisanal refinery activities that have caused the soot pandemic in the state.
Wike maintained that his administration will not succumb to any form of blackmail or sentiment that will be stirred by those perpetrators in an attempt to frustrate efforts at curbing such hazardous business.
The governor made the vow when he took a tour, making a long walk through the track roads into the forest of Ogbodo community in Ikwerre Local Government Area, and the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area, with the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, and other security chiefs, to uncover some crude oil illegal refining sites.
“They can’t be doing this and be killing my people. No reasonable government will allow that. And I can tell you with all due respect, we will take this matter very seriously.”
“Look at how, every day, in your house, you see the soot. I mean, how can you allow that? So, this one that we can solve, we will solve it.
“We have assured the people of Rivers State, we will fight this matter to the last until I leave office.”
Wike noted that confronting this seemingly cartel kind of business will not be easy. But, he has however, vowed to consider it as a war like situation and fight it from the standpoint of the law.
According to the governor, no matter how highly placed the perpetrators may be, they will not be spared, but confronted, apprehended and be made to face the full force of the law.
Wike has therefore directed the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, to take over the case files of illegal crude oil refinery operators arrested by the police.
“Attorney General, all these matters with the police, you have to retrieve the files so that you can prosecute the matters on our own. I don’t want any compromise anywhere.
“And then too, it will not be on the ministry. You have to constitute a legal team. Go and get our friends all over the country, so that we can execute this prosecution to the last.
“It is a serious matter. And I’m going to take it head on. In fact, it is a war. It is not poor people doing this, they’re a cartel. You must go and arrest these people; Chief W. J. Wocha, you must arrest Fubara Ohaka, and chief Promise Ezekwe. You must arrest them.
“It doesn’t matter how highly placed you are. If you like, be the paramount ruler. In fact, any traditional ruler that is involved, pick him for me. Let him understand that the law does not respect anybody.”
Speaking further, Wike directed the Emohua Council Chairman, Dr Chidi Lloyd to locate residences where processed crude oil products are stored and let the people ascertain their sources.
Wike said the purpose of confronting this havoc is to ensure that the health of Rivers people is not further hampered by those illegal refining activities.
“If not, our people will continue to die. Even you, you’re not safe from related sicknesses like cancer. All those products in the houses; you must go after them; they must tell you where they got the products. Enough is enough.
“Look at what is happening, they are dying. I want to live. So, we must stop this illegal refinery business.
“And I have said to the Federal Government; if you’re not willing to do anything, don’t promise people anything. You told them that you will do something, how can you promise modular refinery.
“What I’m talking about is the safety of Rivers people. That is more important to me.”
Explaining the ugly experience community people had suffered, the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd noted that the problem of illegal refining activities in the area is beyond the capacity of the council to handle.
He wondered why the Federal Government which once promised to established modular refineries in the Niger Delta region has reneged on that promise.
“Thank God for your boldness. Rivers people are now aware. On a daily basis people roast and burn here. The whole Ibaa community has been taken over by this trade.
“And when you talk, they say look, if they don’t do this, they’ll go to the roads and begin to carry arms. And I say to them, you don’t dig a hole to cover another hole. Your business shouldn’t kill me.”
Earlier, the Ikwerre Local Government Chairman, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike, conducted the governor around illegal oil refining site at Ogbodo-Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
PDP Govs Storm PH To Consolidate On Rescue, Rebuild Nigeria Project
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum would hold a special meeting, today, at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.
The Director General, PDP Governors Forum, Hon. Cyril I.D. Maduabum, said the meeting would review the state of the states, the state of the nation, and readiness of the PDP to provide the necessary leadership to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.
“All the elected PDP governors are expected to attend the meeting to be presided over by the Chairman of the Forum, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
“The meeting will be preceded by a gala night to be hosted by the Chief Host, Governor Nyesom Wike.
“The PDP governors are working in concert and consultations with other leaders of the party, and in particular, the Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP to craft a credible process and programme for Nigeria’s positive rebirth.”
He explained that Ayu has been invited to attend the Port Harcourt meeting to hold consultations with the governors on strategies for executing the rescue and rebuild Nigeria project.
It would be recalled that, among others, the governors would do an appraisal of ongoing reconciliatory efforts in Ekiti and Osun states where governorship elections are billed to hold this year.
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