Clinton on Pakistan

A quick post — I was really surprised to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being very forthright about America’s errors in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Let’s remember here,” she told a congressional hearing, “the people we are fighting today, we funded 20 years ago.” She links the problems in the region now, in part, to America’s policies in fighting the Soviet Union. “Let’s be careful what we sow, because we will harvest,” she said. Here’s the clip from CNN:

 

Front page, DawnThe major English-language daily in Pakistan, Dawn, highlighted her comments: US created Taliban and abandoned Pakistan: Clinton. Reporter Anwar Iqbal writes the lead, “Two days of continuous congressional hearings on the Obama administration’s foreign policy brought a rare concession from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who acknowledged that the United States too had a share in creating the problem that plagues Pakistan today.”

While it is significant for Clinton to have made such a blatant statement, the U.S. policy on Pakistan is still problematic, according to a Saturday editorial. Dawn writes: “Secretary Clinton may well be right in saying that the Pakistani people ‘need to speak out forcefully’ against the government’s policy of appeasement in Swat. But this amounts to going over the head of the government it claims is an ally and undermining its authority among the people. And all the tough talk against Pakistan cannot conceal that the Americans are themselves puzzled about how exactly to approach Pakistan.”

Update: Turns out, the State Department is looking for suggestions.

not usually a fan

I’m in Los Angeles, but I’m not a big Grammys watcher. This year, I might just let CBS run in the background.

I first listened to the music of M.I.A. in 2005, when Asia Pacific Arts took an early bet that she would become big news for the music industry. This year, her second album, Kala, has become a staple in my musical diet. It is absolutely layered and filled with unexpected sounds and lyrics. Maybe that’s why Paper Planes, nominated for record of the year, gave such great character to the most entertaining scenes of Slumdog Millionaire, and made a really great trailer (just the end part) for Pineapple Express.

She’s got guts, and not just with her music. She’s slated to take the Grammy stage this year, very pregnant, for a performance on the day her baby is due. It’s certainly garnered her a lot of attention. She wrote (in hot pink) on her MySpace blog:

I want you to know that , everyone has been asking me on the shows to talk about the sudden popularity im experiencing, the babies, the grammies the oscars etc

and i want you to know that this has been part of the plan from day 1.

Indeed, M.I.A. has a plan; she’s got something to say, and it will be interesting to see if a show like the Grammys, not well known for its risk-taking, will let her say it. And what the last hours of pregnancy looks like on stage.

Here are a few interviews, if you’re unfamiliar with M.I.A.’s story. The first is another great interview by Tavis Smiley, the second a basic CNN interview, a quick sum-up of the Sri Lanka conflict in between M.I.A. soundbites, that is getting some flack.

 


 

(I am also intrigued by Radiohead’s reported Grammy night plans.)