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Hina Rabbani Khar: 'Give Pakistan some time'
Pakistan's foreign minister distances her government from extremist groups, but admits there are stark challenges ahead.
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2012 12:14

The Haqqani network is still fighting against NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Last week the US designated the group as a terror organisation and pushed through a resolution at the UN targeting it for global sanctions.

Western leaders believe the network is based across the border in Pakistan and may even to some extent be protected there.

But if you ask Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s foreign minister, she will tell you her country has nothing to do with the group, and resents implications that it is not doing enough to fight extremists:

"My country has lost as much blood as anyone else ... I am opposed to the narrative that Pakistan is somehow not doing enough,” she says.

The ability of extremists to keep fighting for their agenda in Pakistan was highlighted recently when Malala Yousafzai, a school girl, was shot in the head by the Taliban for her campaign to bring education to little girls.

Again, many were left wondering why the government had not done more to protect her.

Asked if they felt "guilty" for failing to keep Yousafzai safe, Khar says: "The government on at least three different occasions offered to provide security. Now, that was a girl and a family who wanted to live a normal life ... 

"This is a huge wake-up call and when I say that we did whatever we could, and we are doing whatever we can, I am understanding the enormity of the challenge, and seeing that. But I would refuse to have my country be blamed for not standing up enough, when we are a country which has had more losses than any other country."

But these are issues that are affecting the perception of Pakistan abroad, at a time when there are also tensions with the US about its use of drone strikes on Pakistani territory as part of the war against extremists in Afghanistan.

"There are two elements to this war," Khar says. "One is the war that you have on the field ... but the more important war that we are still fighting is, I think, against the mindset that we have allowed to develop. What is happening in Afghanistan is the ideological space that has been provided ... The contraction of this ideological space requires that people must not feel that they are being unfairly dealt with - that nations are being unfairly dealt with - the Afghans must not feel that, Pakistan must not feel that."

Meanwhile domestically, the country is also facing stark challenges. Millions of people live in poverty, while at the same time Pakistan spends massive amounts on a strong defence system that includes a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. And Pakistan's different state institutions appear to be at war with each other.

"These are growing pains. This is a country which has suffered for almost 36 years of non-democratic rule, non-constitutional rule. It is a country which is just getting out of four-and-a-half years of democratic rule; give it some time. Every country, every nation, deserves some time."

In this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Hina Rabbani Khar sits down with Taymoor Nabili and talks about the challenges facing her country.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430.

Click here for more Talk to Al Jazeera

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