U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held this press conference on December 4, 2008 at the Chaklala Air Base in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I just completed a series of meetings with members of the Pakistani Government and just concluding a meeting with President Zardari. We’ve had extensive discussions about how to continue our cooperation against our joint concerns and our joint enemies in the war on terror. The extremists who continue to strike in various parts of the world, of course, have struck here in Pakistan. This is also Pakistan’s security concern. And in all of my meetings, I have found a Pakistani Government that is focused on the threat and that understands its responsibilities to respond to terrorism and extremism wherever it’s found.
We talked at some length about the attack on Mumbai and about the importance of Pakistan taking its responsibility to deal with those who may use Pakistani territory even if they are non-state actors. And I found a Pakistani leadership that is very focused and, I think, very committed to – for its own reasons, because Pakistan has been a victim in the war – a victim of these terrorist elements – very committed to acting. And Pakistan is going to investigate the circumstances, investigate what may have happened, to support in any way the effort in – the attacks in Mumbai, because the Pakistani Government, I was told and I fully believe, is very committed to this war on terror. It does not in any way want to be associated with terrorist elements, and is indeed fighting to root them out wherever they find them. And therefore, I found these conversations quite satisfactory.
So I’m prepared to take a question from each side. Yes.
QUESTION: Yes, (inaudible) for NBC and (inaudible) TV. (Inaudible) Pakistan and India relationship have really been (inaudible). And there were reports that – first of all, how do you see military tension between India and Pakistan? And if there is a real tension, Pakistan said that it will move its troops from western borders to its eastern borders.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. I didn’t – let me be very clear. I have heard nothing but reasonable discussion and responsible discussion in both India and Pakistan about the problem here about the attack in Mumbai. Obviously, the Indian Government is concerned and determined to find the perpetrators, bring them to justice, determined to try to prevent the next attack.
I found Pakistan -- that – a Pakistani leadership that understands the importance of doing that, particularly in rooting out terrorists and rounding up whoever perpetrated this attack from wherever it was perpetrated, whatever its sources, wherever the leads go, because everybody wants to prevent further attacks as well. And so this was not talk about military action. It was talk about how to deal with this particular problem, which is the terrorism that has occurred and how to prevent it in the future.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you feel that the Indians – (inaudible) tension – that they have a right to strike the elements inside Pakistan? Who do you think are responsible for the actions that have happened in Bombay?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have, I think, made myself clear that the issue is how to respond in a way that is effective. And the most effective way to respond is through international cooperation that includes India and anyone else who can help like the United States, Great Britain, and includes Pakistan. Because obviously, these terrorists work in a way that does not always respect borders, usually doesn’t respect borders, and it is extremely important to act when something like this happens. But whatever is done, the response has to be effective, both in bringing people to justice and in preventing a further attack. And it doesn’t help to do something that might have – that might worsen the problem or have unintended consequences, and I’ve made that clear on both stops. But there does need to be action and there needs to be action urgently and transparently. And that has been a message that has been well received here in Pakistan because this is Pakistan’s fight as well.
MR. MCCORMACK: Last question to Anne Gearan --
QUESTION: I just wanted to know if India shared some evidence about (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, I – let me just speak to this. I think it is – there is a lot of information about what happened here, a lot of information. And so this isn’t an issue of sharing evidence. There is a lot of information. And there is a – there are many mechanisms through which to share that information. And that information needs to be used now to get the perpetrators and to prevent them from doing this again.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, Anne? Where’s Anne Gearan?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right over here.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, after your talks here today and in India, how confident are you that the two governments can work together productively? You said you heard more or less what you wanted to hear from each of them, but how about the two of them talking to one another?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I hope that they will keep the lines of communication open. It’s a difficult time. But I do want to just note that we’re starting – when this incident happened, relations between India and Pakistan had improved considerably. And so that’s a good thing. It’s good that you’re starting from a base in which relations were improving, rather than when – rather than relations in a bad state. But obviously, what is going to need to be done here is that the cooperation, the efforts to move forward are going to have to result in bringing the perpetrators to justice and in preventing further attacks. But the good basis that is here between India and Pakistan is a result of efforts that have been made particularly since the new Pakistani Government came into power. I think it’s going to help in this entire transition.
QUESTION: Secretary Rice, given those difficulties, how high-profile a role is the U.S. Government prepared to play in this investigation? Is this going to be at the level of just simply forensic technicians or is the U.S. Government going to be engaged at a higher role?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, the United States is prepared to help in whatever way we can. The – there is considerable capacity on the side of India. There’s considerable capacity on the side of Pakistan. It is our intention to augment that in any way that we – that is helpful. I know I had conversations in Britain. They have the same attitude. And so we will be helpful in any way that we can. But obviously, the best thing is that these two countries do what they can through their own capacity to fully investigate and to bring people to justice who perpetrated that. And what I heard was a commitment that that is going to be the course that’s taken.
But I want to just repeat again what I’ve said. This was a terrible attack. It was a sophisticated attack at a level of sophistication that we haven’t seen here on the subcontinent before. That means that there is urgency to getting to the bottom of it, there is urgency to bringing the perpetrators to justice, and there is urgency to using the information to disrupt and prevent further attacks.
And we need to stay focused; everyone needs to stay focused on those priorities. The United States is, of course, focused on those priorities because Americans were also killed in this attack, so it’s of special concern to us. But it just reminds us that this is a global struggle and it reminds us that all responsible states have to play their role in making certain that the terrorists can’t get away with this kind of attack. Thank you very much.