Clinton's Goodwill Trip Marred By Pakistan Attack A deadly car bomb exploded Wednesday in Peshawar, Pakistan, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the capital, Islamabad, about 100 miles away. She hopes to build and repair fragile relations with a country seen as a critical U.S. ally in the fight against Islamist extremism.

Clinton's Goodwill Trip Marred By Pakistan Attack

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel in Washington.


And I'm Melissa Block at NPR West in California.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Pakistan did not begin as expected. On the day she arrived in the capital, Islamabad, more than 90 people were killed in the city Peshawar when a powerful car bomb exploded in the market. The Pakistani government is blaming Taliban militants.

NPR's Jackie Northam is traveling with the secretary of state. She sent this report.

JACKIE NORTHAM: The thrust of Secretary 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. On the flight from Washington, Clinton told reporters she wants to start clearing up misperceptions and start building trust between the two countries. In her back pocket was $125 million energy program to help Pakistan repair and upgrade its decaying power plants. She unveiled that today.

But within a couple of hours of Clinton's arrival, word came of the bloody bombing in Peshawar, overshadowing the start of the secretary's goodwill visit. The news broke as she was sharing lunch with her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. His anger over the attack was palpable during a press conference shortly afterwards.

Mr. SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI (Foreign Minister, Pakistan): People who are carrying out such heinous crimes, they want to shake our resolve. And I want to address them: 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. 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.

NORTHAM: Qureshi said Pakistan faces these kind of attacks on a daily basis. Certainly, the number of attacks has increased since the Pakistani military launched an offensive about two weeks ago into the tribal region of South Waziristan in an effort to root out Taliban militants. The Taliban warned it would retaliate. Even before today's bombing in Peshawar, nearly 200 people have died in terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities since the Waziristan offensive began. Secretary Clinton said the U.S. would provide $30 million to help people displaced by the offensive. She voiced strong support for the Pakistani army.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): 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.

NORTHAM: Departing from her prepared remarks, the secretary lashed out at the Taliban.

Sec. CLINTON: These attacks on innocent people are cowardly. They are not courageous. They are cowardly. 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.

NORTHAM: Clinton said the U.S. and Pakistan had turned a new page. She emphasized she would reach out to the Pakistani people during her visit. To that end, she'll hold a town hall meeting while she's here, meet with tribal elders and religious leaders, and talk to as many members of the Pakistani press corps as she can.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Islamabad.

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