Clinton's Goodwill Trip Marred By Pakistan Attack

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton i i

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry office in Islamabad. Clinton arrived in Pakistan on a three-day goodwill mission just as a car bomb struck about 100 miles away in Peshawar, near the Afghan border. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry office in Islamabad. Clinton arrived in Pakistan on a three-day goodwill mission just as a car bomb struck about 100 miles away in Peshawar, near the Afghan border.

Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

The thrust of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's three-day visit to Pakistan is to build and repair fragile relations with a country the U.S. sees as a critical ally in the fight against Islamist extremism.

But just hours after Clinton's arrival in Pakistan on Wednesday, word came of the powerful car bomb attack at a market in the northwest city of Peshawar that killed at least 100. Many of the victims were women and children.

The news broke as Clinton was 100 miles away in Islamabad, sharing lunch with her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. His anger over the attack was palpable during a news conference.

"People who are carrying out such heinous crimes, they want to shake our resolve," he said.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Pakistani government blamed Taliban militants.

"We will not buckle. We will fight you. We will fight you because we want stability and peace in Pakistan. You are on the run, and we know that," Qureshi continued. "You think by attacking innocent people and lives you will shake our determination? No sir, you will not. We will be more determined to fight you and defeat you for our own reasons."

The number of bombings has increased since the Pakistani military launched an offensive earlier this month into the tribal region of South Waziristan in an effort to root out Taliban militants.

Pakistani men stand on the debris of a collapsed market building after a deadly car bombing, Wed. i i

Pakistani men stand on the debris of a collapsed building at a market following a deadly car bomb blast in Peshawar, shortly after Clinton arrived in Islamabad. A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani men stand on the debris of a collapsed market building after a deadly car bombing, Wed.

Pakistani men stand on the debris of a collapsed building at a market following a deadly car bomb blast in Peshawar, shortly after Clinton arrived in Islamabad.

A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 200 people have died in terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities since the South Waziristan offensive began.

Clinton said the U.S. would provide $30 million to help people displaced by the offensive. She voiced strong support for the Pakistani army.

"We commend the Pakistani military for their courageous fight, and we commit to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Pakistani people in your fight for peace and security. We will give you the help that you need in order to achieve your goal," she said.

Departing from her prepared remarks, Clinton lashed out at the Taliban.

"These attacks on innocent people are cowardly. They are not courageous," Clinton said.

"If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process, let them make that case in the political arena and see how far they would get. They know they are on the losing side of history, but they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort that it is," she said.

Clinton told reporters she wants to start clearing up misperceptions — and start building trust — between the two countries. Among her efforts is a $125 million energy program to help Pakistan repair and upgrade its decaying power plants, a plan that was unveiled Wednesday.

Clinton said the U.S. and Pakistan had turned a new page. She emphasized that she would reach out to the Pakistani people during her visit.

To that end, she plans to have a town hall meeting while she is in the country, meet with tribal elders and religious leaders, and talk to as many members of the Pakistani press corps as she can.

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