The killing of an al-Qaida leader in Yemen, America’s strained relationship with Pakistan and her efforts to promote women’s rights in Africa and the Middle East were topics discussed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday at the Clinton Presidential Center.
Speaking as part of the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series, hosting by the Clinton School, Clinton Foundation and AT&T, Clinton opened by addressing the news that American military and CIA operatives had killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who served as a leader of the active al-Qiada affiliate in Yemen.
“Today we are all safer, but we recognize that the threat remains, that al-Qaida does maintain the ability to plan and carry out attacks, and that our vigilance is required, Clinton said. “So we will, along with our partners and allies, continue to ratchet up the pressure, continue pursuing a comprehensive strategic approach to counterterrorism, and work to deny al-Qaida and its affiliates safe haven anywhere in the world.”
During the question and answer portion of the lecture, Clinton took several questions from Clinton School students. Fernado Cutz (’12) asked Clinton about concerns the Obama Administration has expressed recently about the Pakistani government’s relationship with terrorist organizations.
Clinton acknowledged the difficulty the Pakistani government has to maintain security within its own borders, noting that nearly 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed by terrorist attacks in the past 10 years.
“So I think that we are pressing and pushing on every lever that we have in the relationship, and we have to be effective in trying to achieve our strategic goals, which is to prevent any attacks against us emanating from Pakistan, as well as to try to help stabilize Pakistan against this internal threat, and to create the best possible circumstances for Afghanistan to be able to have control over its own future,” Clinton said.
In response to a question by Clinton School student Jasmine Medley (’12) about the role of women in the democratic uprisings across the Middle East, Clinton said “the jury is out” on how the “Arab Spring” will ultimately affect women’s rights in the region.
“Women were at the forefront in Tahrir Square, in Tunisia. And it’s too soon to really speak about what will be the outcome of their sacrifice and their commitment. But we constantly raise how important it is that if you have a democracy, it means you respect human rights, you respect women’s rights, you respect minority rights,” Clinton said.
Video of the speech will be posted soon at www.clintonschoolspeakers.com.