Clinton: Pakistan abdicates to Taliban, extremists

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday Pakistan’s government had abdicated to the Taliban by agreeing to Islamic law in part of the country and that the nuclear-armed nation posed a “mortal threat” to world security.

Clinton was asked by U.S. lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee about Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, under pressure from conservatives, earlier this month signing a regulation imposing Islamic law in Swat, once one of Pakistan’s main tourist destinations.

“I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists,” she said.

Earlier she had told the committee that Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”

Clinton said the Pakistani government had to deliver basic services to its people or it would find itself losing ground to the Taliban, whose influence has spread in northern Pakistan and has raised concerns about the stability of the country.

“The government of Pakistan ... must begin to deliver government services, otherwise they are going to lose out to those who show up and claim that they can solve people’s problems and then they will impose this harsh form of oppression on women and others,” she said.

Editing by Bill Trott