Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 12:30 GMT
Should Bill Clinton go to Islamabad?

The US president is making a high-profile tour of South Asia this month at a time of growing regional tension. He will go to India and Bangladesh - and make a brief but controversial stopover in Pakistan.

India didn't want him to go - arguing that he should not visit a country under military rule, and one which allegedly supports terrorism.

But Pakistan has hailed his decision to visit, and wants him to help resolve tensions with India over Kashmir.

Is Bill Clinton right to go to Islamabad?

Your reaction

It is my strong belief that President Clinton should not visit Pakistan. Now that he is doing that, he might as well visit Saddam, Castro, and Gaddafi.
Ajay, UK/India

Clinton's visit will basically lend legitimacy to the military regime.

Idris Ahmad, UK
I can't see any reason why Clinton shouldn't go to Pakistan. Once again the West has conveniently decided to paint a Muslim country as the pariah in a conflict where both sides are at, at least, equal in terms of the questionabilty of their actions over Kashmir.
As for Pakistan, it is shocking that Mr Shariff should be facing the possibility of a capital sentence but military rule is not necessarily a bad thing for Pakistan. The military is the only institution in the country with the backbone and infrastructure to govern.
Clinton's visit will basically lend legitimacy to the military regime, which, for the sake of the people of Pakistan, is essential to try and turn around the economic disaster that the country is presently facing.
Idris Ahmad, UK

I think its about time that Clinton stepped in to help resolve the Kashmir issue. But the thing is that Pakistan wants an outside nation to mediate, why are the Indians strongly against foreign mediation???? Are they scared that they will lose Kashmir due to the human rights abuses that are being carried out in Kashmir by Indian troops???? The plot thickens...
Tom Phillips, UK

It is a matter of respect, we are thankful to President of America who considers us.
Ghulam Ghous Malik, Pakistan

The Kashmir problem will never been resolved if no third party will interfere, and I think America is suitable. India should be reasonable.
John, Australia

Mr. Clinton. Don't Come to Pakistan as there is perhaps a last chance for Pakistanis to get freedom from USA.
Tariq, Pakistan

Mr. Clinton is wasting his time by visiting Pakistan.

Ashish, India (Presently in US)
Mr. Clinton is wasting his time by visiting Pakistan. Pakistan, the country of religious fanatics and power hungry army is not worth it.
People who only understand the language of power should be treated accordingly. Otherwise Mr. Clinton can also visit the palaces of Saddam Hussein and be his guest.
Ashish, India (Presently in US)

Yes! Clinton should visit Pakistan, when he is really concerned about the nuclear threat to that region, if they end up with a war. It is also a problem to the world. Shaking hands with one creates a lot more hostility to the other. When he is there, I feel he must visit Pakistan too.
Stevenson Thady, USA

Clinton's visit to Pakistan will only help in alleviating the currently tense situation.

Imran Siddiqi, USA
Clinton's visit to Pakistan will only help in alleviating the currently tense situation. All you critics who stereotype Musharraf didn't know what it was like before he came to power. Absolute lawlessness was the order of the day. Pakistanis are happy with their General so the rest of you mind your own business and stop interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs.
Imran Siddiqi, USA

It's obvious that Clinton will never do anything about Kashmir besides giving a diplomatic speech.

Hark Singh, USA
For what shall he visit Pakistan? If there's any country in Indian Subcontinent to be considered safe for Clinton, it's India. Those days are long gone when US needed Pakistan for that region.
If Clinton goes to Pakistan he would give a gesture of support to its new dictatorship rule. It's obvious that Clinton will never do anything about Kashmir besides giving a diplomatic speech. He will eventually discard Pakistan since it currently promises no future. India is setting up itself to solve Kashmir issue on it's own in the near future and US will have no choice but to support its new ally India for what's right.
Hark Singh, USA

Is the world so naive that it thinks that not going to Pakistan is going to help in easing tensions in the sub-continent? I think there is nothing more dangerous for the world than a nuclear nation pushed in the corner.
Asma Anser, Pakistan

The recent massacre of defenceless Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir has exposed the brutal face of 'jehad' in the state. This is no 'jehad,' this is terrorism. As long as Pakistani support for this continues, Clinton's offers for peace brokering remain useless.
Aaftab Jain, India

If Clinton is serious about helping resolve the issue, he needs to hear both parties with equal faith.

Komal, USA
India presented a very negative and immature picture of our country in front of the world community by protesting Clinton's visit to Pakistan. Face it, neither India nor Pakistan is innocent in the Kashmir conflict. If Clinton is serious about helping resolve the issue, he needs to hear both parties with equal faith. As the president of the US, Clinton can really push India and Pakistan to stop this atrocity on Kashmir.
Komal, USA

We should not isolate Pakistan and give it incentives to work with rogue nations for survival.
Hussain T. Hasan, USA

The US president has to go to Pakistan. It is even better if he even approves the military govt. there. He doesn't have to be ashamed. This is not and will not be the first time the greatest democracy in the world has supported military dictators and communist governments. Pakistan has helped US in Afghanistan, now it is America's turn. India should learn to live with the fact that US places economic interest before anything else and strive to have partnership on that level.
Krishna, India

Pakistanis should not have bent backwards to make sure the Clinton visits Pakistan. The only reason he is going there is to pressure Pakistan to work for USA and get Usama bin Laden out of Afghanistan and hand him over to the US. If Pakistanis think he is there for any other reason - wise up people!
Mohammad, USA

He should support the cause of human rights in Pakistan.

Somnath Mukhopadhyay, UK
President Clinton must figure out what he is seeking to achieve by visiting Pakistan. Do not forget that the Pakistani people have tried hard to maintain a democratic system of government. Mr. Clinton must make an effort to meet the democratically elected leader of the Pakistani people. He will insult the will of the Pakistani people if he fails to do that.
He cannot call himself a champion of democratic principles if he visits a dictator who has recently deposed a democratically elected prime minister and clapped him in jail. He must also support the Pakistani people in their struggle to free themselves against fundamentalism. He should support the cause of human rights in Pakistan.
Somnath Mukhopadhyay, UK

Clinton should visit Bihar and meet Laloo and Rabri. India is truly represented by Bihar, all other thing we see are illusions.
Sri Ram, USA

President Clinton should go to Pakistan, it will ease off tension between Pakistan and India. And it also shows that there is issue, which is caused by India over Kashmir, Pres. Clinton should take some kind of action to resolve this matter.
Babrok Arman, USA

Mr. President's visit to Islamabad will be a good for the Indian side. If, Mr. Clinton will not visit Pakistan than there will be a new rift between the two countries and it will not be good for whole the world.
Javed Akhtar Qadri, Kuwait

Under the current situation, would it be right to go to such a country? Can Musharraf even guarantee Clinton's safety when he is in that country?
Aseem, USA

Clinton should visit Kashmir rather than visiting Pakistan.

Varu, India
Clinton should visit Kashmir rather than visiting Pakistan, so that he can see the atrocities the Indian Government is doing to the Kashmiri people and put the blame on Pakistan and to see how good the largest democracy in the world is.
Varu, India

I personally think that President Clinton should visit Pakistan. The Pakistani people have always stood but the United States. After all if he is visiting a country like India that refuses to negotiate peacefully and has employed over 700 thousand troops in Indian occupied Kashmir to commit crimes against civilians in the valley. I have no idea how you can call India a democratic state where people are not free to do what they want.
Haroon Hussain, USA

Clinton's visit to south Asia sounds like another political drama. I do not think that there is going to be a major change in the regional politics between now and next month so why can't he make up his mind? I suggest that while he is in the region he should pay a friendly visit to the military rulers of Mayanmar and Iraq as well.
Vish, UK

Listening to one side will not help him to come to a conclusion.

Ilyas, England
If Clinton is very interested in solving the Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan then he should visit Pakistan to get the clear picture in his head. Listening to one side will not help him to come to a conclusion. After all it is his decision.
Ilyas, England

I love the argument of military dictatorship. Funny how people forget the recent past. Just a polite reminder! American relations with Pakistan were at an all-time high during the eleven-years regime of the worst military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. It was the time when Reagan administration was pouring lots of money in Pakistan to exploit Afghans in order to get their (American) job done. Clinton will decide whether to visit or not keeping in mind the US interests irrespective of the type of regime in Pakistan.
Adam Khan, Pakistani in England

There is no need for Clinton to go to Pakistan, but as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world it would be advisable if he did so. It is about time the USA take charge and resolve the Kashmir issue. If the USA or other super powers don't want to end this illegal Indian occupation then it will have to bear the consequences of a nuclear war in the sub-continent. There will be no peace in this region until this matter is resolved.
Mutahir Khan, UK

I think Clinton should visit Pakistan. Pakistan is a very volatile country and if US snubs Pakistan this time it will only give even more reasons to fundamentalists that US is against Islam.
Faiz Hanif, Canada

Bill Clinton should not visit either Pakistan or India, because now for the sake of face saving, India will react negatively when he visits and Pakistan will react negatively if he doesn't. So much better if he just left both of us alone.
Rukhsana, Pakistan

Pakistani people never like a person visit their country who is involved in crushing Muslims in the world such as Kosovo, Chechnya, Kashmir, Lebanon and Philistine etc.
Azhar, Multan

Promoting peace in that region is something for which Clinton himself promised and which is in the interest of both India and Pakistan.

Bakht Baidar , France
I think that Clinton should include Pakistan in his visit to South Asia, as it can help to reduce the tension between Pakistan and India and can help to promote peace in the region. Promoting peace in that region is something for which Clinton himself promised and which is in the interest of both India and Pakistan.
Bakht Baidar , France

It is foolish to believe that public opinion from the sub-continent will influence the American President's decision to visit Pakistan or not. If the national interests and policies of USA are served, they will not mind shaking hand with dictators and oppressive regimes. We must not forget that many of the evils facing the world have their genesis in the self-serving policies of USA. President Clinton, would you like to go down in history as a man who sought peace or as one who had disturbed the existing one.
Jaffer Shaikh, India

It is entirely up to Clinton to decide whether he should visit Pakistan or not. If he visits Pakistan, it will show the double standard of the US foreign policy. Whether Pakistan is right or wrong the US always supported Pakistan. With American policy of democracy, it should be supporting India which is the largest democracy in the world rather than Pakistan. But US will never do that and Clinton WILL visit Pakistan. You can wait and see.
Pierre du Plessis, South Africa

Everybody is expressing his/her opinion whether Clinton should go to Pakistan or not. Did it ever occur to all those opinionated folks that Pakistan has not invited Clinton, especially the new military government and I would encourage them to politely say "No".
Azhar Bokhari, USA

Mr. Clinton should visit Pakistan. Just because it has a military government is a stupid reason not to visit. It is after all what Pakistani's seem to want otherwise they would have overthrown it.
Arjun Pandu, India

Pakistan since it's birth is a close friend of USA on all international issues. Pakistan had supported America so President Clinton should go to Pakistan and it is also good to create a balance in the region
Mahboob, Saudi Arabia

President Clinton must not visit Pakistan. Kashmir is not a problem of Clinton's

Pravin Patel, Norway
President Clinton must not visit Pakistan. Kashmir is not a problem of Clinton's. Pakistan is not a democractic country. If he visit's Pakistan than he should also visit Iraq. If Clinton believes in democracy then he should not visit Pakistan.
Pravin Patel, Norway

Pakistan is a very peaceful country. In addition, Pakistan has been a good friend and has good relationship with America and rest of world. So Mr. Clinton should go to Pakistan and have fun in his visit.
Muhammad Azam Sana, United States

I believe that President Clinton should visit Pakistan because it would confirm U.S impartiality between India and Pakistan. The U.S would be perceived as an 'honest broker' by both the countries. Kashmir the most dangerous flash point in the region and a future war between the two Nuclear powers will have a devastating effect on all of Asia, not just the two warring parties. Moreover, no lasting peace in the region can be expected to be achieved without involving Pakistan in the process and recognising the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
Arif Hasan, Canada

Bill Clinton MUST visit Pakistan, there is no should about it. Mr. Clinton's visitation of Pakistan may be the most effective way to ease tensions in the region, and prevent the inevitable war between India and Pakistan. A visit to India should also be on Bill Clinton's agenda, despite that most Americans do not know/care about the tensions.
Peter Crawford-Bolton, British, residing in USA

I do not believe Clinton should visit Pakistan. The visit would hold no advantage for the U.S as many in Pakistan will damn America if he comes and damn America if he does not.
Anil Kaushik, Australia

President Clinton must not visit a rogue country like Pakistan

V Wadher, UK
President Clinton must not visit a rogue country like Pakistan. Instead he should warn Pakistan to disclaim any territorial gain to Kashmir and in fact return illegal occupied land of Kashmir. That is the only to restore peace in the sub-continent.
V Wadher, UK

The western media makes it look as if people in the sub-continent are falling head over heals for Mr. Clinton's visit. The fact that the president of the self-proclaimed 'most democratic' nation had not so far visited the largest democracy in the world is in itself an indication of America's dubious foreign policy. The Indian democracy will survive and thrive without the grace of an American president as it has done so far. I think it is an insult to the people of India to connect this visit to the Pakistani question. Either he visits India on its own merit or he does not. For the average people in India, it does not matter anyway.
Tridiv, Germany/India

Personally, I don't want him to visit Pakistan but what is the point of visiting the sub-continent if he is not going to go to Pakistan and if he plans to achieve some thing from this visit without going to Pakistan then I think he and his administration is living in fool's paradise.
Ejaz Khan, UK / Pakistan

President Clinton should not only visit Pakistan but also Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar) and Nepal. After all, he has been on record as saying that a visit to the subcontinent had been the missing part of his life.
Vijay Ojha, UK

If Clinton decides to go to Pakistan, he will be warmly welcomed with the traditional rich hospitality of the people of Pakistan.

B T Shiek, France
It doesn't matter a lot if Clinton visits Pakistan or not now, as the government of Pakistan has successfully created a sound diplomatic footing for Pakistan all over the globe since the military take over last October. Moreover, Pakistan is constantly showing more inclination to accept US intervention for resolving the burning issue of Kashmir as compared to India. Still, if Clinton decides to go to Pakistan, he will be warmly welcomed with the traditional rich hospitality of the people of Pakistan.
B T Shiek, France

Clinton's visit will not help Pakistan at this time. It will help the military dictator to stay in power for longer as President of free democracy endorses his position. Help Pakistan to stop being rogue state by not visiting but helping bring democracy and stop terrorism. Clinton's visit will not be seen as good by democratic peace loving people of the world but seen as blackmailing by military junta of Pakistan.
Ray R, Japan

Whether to visit Pakistan or not is for Mr. Clinton himself to decide? But, before he does so he should also make it clear whether he is ready to go soft on other military dictators like Saddam Hussein, because there is nothing like a "good" or "bad" dictator.
Pranav, India

I believe the Indians are not being very fair when trying to keep Clinton out of Pakistan. This doesn't really help to promote peace. Seems they still can't get over the fact that 100 million people choose not to be Indian anymore
Joe Mc Namara, Switzerland

By not going to Pakistan it will be slap on their face and will lead them into more isolation and intervention into Kashmir.

Kassim Jaffar, Malaysia
Clinton must go to Pakistan. By not going to Pakistan it will be slap on their face and will lead them into more isolation and intervention into Kashmir. A short visit will make them more concern of their international image and will keep them away from direct involvement in Kashmir. Musharaf might be a military leader who took power by coup but he is well accepted by his people.
Kassim Jaffar, Malaysia

It will be a grave mistake for President Clinton to skip Pakistan. It will send a wrong signal to India.
Mahmood A Alvi, USA

If Clinton won't visit Pakistan, this will escalate the tension between two nuclear countries. This (if Clinton doesn't go) move can push Pakistan toward isolation in the world which can worsen the Pakistan's economic/social situations.
Irfan Khan, USA

I think Clinton should visit Islamabad. Knowing how immature the Regimes of the two countries are maybe he can use this visit to drill some sense into two squabbling kids.
Andy, USA

People of Pakistan don't care if Mr. Clinton visits Pakistan or not. We are currently involved in lot of restructuring of our institutions and just don't want any distractions of world leaders visiting us. To all those people who thinks Pakistan has become unstable after Coup check out the Karachi stock exchange index. It has gone up and up and up. So what is it showing, one word "stability". If Clinton will visit we will welcome him. If he will not it just does not matter to us.
Muhammad Naqvi, Pakistan

I think Bill has made his life more difficult by delaying the decision to make a trip to Pakistan or not. Now if he goes to Pakistan, he won't find his trip to India profitable, and if he doesn't go to Pakistan, then he will loose the most strategic friends, who had helped US interests against communism and fundamentalism and also helped US to make some in ways into China.
Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, Japan

Clinton is a lame duck president.

Adam Parker, USA
Clinton is a lame duck president. Presidents in this position are free concentrate on their legacy and not re-election. Clinton should go to Pakistan. He should signal to the world that peace in the area is everyone's problem. This would be a fitting endeavour for his last year.
Adam Parker, USA

All this drama is only to show, how important person he is that Pakistanis are begging him to for a visit. If he did not visit Pakistan, He would be the most foolish president of America. Pakistan, though a poor country but, has significant importance for any superpower.
N. Aziz, UK

I do not think Clinton should visit Pakistan. As a Pakistani American, I think its about time USA left Pakistan and its corrupt rulers alone...I think USA has been the cause of Pakistani destruction all along and we would love it if USA would leave us alone.
A.R. Khan, USA

The Hindu extremist BJP government of India should not be allowed to bully the US Administration and dictate American foreign policy. President Clinton should visit Pakistan, and also urge the Indian's to accept international law, and allow Kashmiris to decide their future as the United Nations requires. The Kashmiris, like the East Timorese, have suffered the horrors of occupation long enough.
Umar Ali, Pakistan

Bill Clinton has no moral obligation to visit Pakistan because its military dictatorship and being only strong super power of world he has moral obligation to stand against the terrorists like Osama bin Ladin who are getting support of Pakistan and Taliban, so if he goes to Pakistan, I think he is gonna support terrorists all over world, so he need to stay away from so called Pakistan.
Harbans Dhillon, USA

I don't think it's safe for the President to visit Pakistan, as their own Prime Minister is not safe there.
Ritu Sharma, USA

Clinton should visit Pakistan but only meet President Tarar as the only representative of the people of Pakistan.

T. Varadaraj, USA
The choice is between humiliating the long-suffering people of Pakistan who have seen their hopes being dashed time and again or honouring the very thugs who have brought this situation on them. Clinton should visit Pakistan but only meet President Tarar as the only representative of the people of Pakistan.
T. Varadaraj, USA

Our President shouldn't make such a big mistake just for the sake of cold war strategic equations. In that case, he might as well visit Iraq or Iran instead of rogue Pakistan. giving legitimacy to Kashmiri terrorists and to Pakistan's misadventure in Kashmir is just like agreeing with Saddam!
Jon Martha, USA

He should visit Pakistan to confirm that he is not above 'coddling' with dictators also. It will also confirm the belief that there is a strong lobby in Washington that wants to overlook Pakistan's role in sponsoring terrorism, drug trade and the country's own Sectarian violence. Did anyone mention democracy also?
Ashesh, USA

South Asia has been described as the most dangerous place in the world at the moment with tensions in Kashmir, Punjab and Assam and two nuclear powers at each other's throats. Any body who can help resolve the problems in this area should act as a peace broker between India and Pakistan and resolve the independence issues. The world would be a safer place then.
Jaspal Singh, USA

Going to Pakistan even for a few hours would legitimise a military dictatorship and support international terrorism. Mr Clinton should only consider a visit to Pakistan if concrete steps are first seen on the ground - not meaningless assurances - to eradicate the menace of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and a movement toward democracy. Furthermore, a visit to Pakistan just prior to visiting India, would be an insult to India, which is the victim of Pakistini terrorism.
Aseem Palvia, USA

Clinton should not go to Pakistan. This will send a wrong message to dictators all over the world. This will send a message of legitimacy to an unlawful government. USA as the leading proponent for the free world should not endorse dictatorships.
Somdev Roy , USA

The military dictators of Pakistan who threw out a democratically elected government and forced judges out of the country's supreme court have systematically destroyed the foundations of civilised society. They can not be rewarded by according international recognition by a visiting US president or for that matter by any head of the state. Just because a military dictator is in possession of nuclear weapons does not mean the civilised world prostrate in front him and dance to his tune. It is about time the people of Pakistan and the world stand up to democracy and peace.
Prassy, USA

I personally believe that Mr Clinton should visit Pakistan. Pakistan has been always there whenever US wanted them. If he does not visit, it will help the fundamentalists more. Pakistan is a strategic and nuclear country. To give it the cold shoulder at this time won't help matters.
Amin Khan, Silicon Valley, USA

America as the sole superpower needs a stable Pakistan to stop the menace of terrorism in the name of Islam.

Shahid Miandara, USA
America as the sole superpower needs a stable Pakistan to stop the menace of terrorism in the name of Islam. Ignoring this country of 120 million at this stage would only help the hardliners to take control of the situation. Pakistan still remains the only ally of USA in the region that has been snubbed more than once by American administrations and this might be the last chance to move this state away from fundamentalism.
Shahid Miandara, USA

I think President Clinton must not go to Pakistan as long as it ruled by military rulers who have usurped power and continue to abet terrorism. The military regime, for all its call for peace on Kashmir, continues to support terrorists and wages a proxy war. Clinton's visit would signal a tacit approval of all the actions of the General and his men. Pakistan, must not be isolated, but must be made to believe that their actions have not gone down very well in the international circles. This may possibly help Pakistan to rise from the depths to be a mature nation - which is what I too, as an Indian, want to see.
S Bala Mukund, USA

Pakistan should not negotiate on any 'preconditions' of President Clinton's visit. It is now the USA's turn to support Pakistan, after 'using' it past during Cold War years & Afghan occupation.
Muhammed Irfan, UK

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

01 Feb 00 | South Asia
Clinton to visit India
03 Feb 00 | South Asia
Pakistan urges Clinton visit
03 Feb 00 | South Asia
Kashmiri hope over Clinton visit

Links to other Talking Point stories