Pakistan's Foreign Minister speaks in Houston

October 5, 2009 4:22:10 PM PDT
A suicide bombing in Pakistan Monday morning killed five people. A bomber dressed in a soldier's uniform told security guards at the offices of the United Nations Food Program he had to use their restroom. He got into the lobby and blew himself up. News of the explosion came as Pakistan's Foreign Minister was in Houston to meet at The Baker Institute, and with our own In Focus reporter Ted Oberg.

The blast was not Pakistan's first, just the deadliest in months and it shows just hard the nation's fight against extremists is.

"This is a manifestation of the challenge that we are facing in Pakistan today. I am here engaging with the U.S. administration in how important it is to build a strong partnership against this menace," said Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan's Foreign Minister.

Qureshi was in Houston to speak with our area's large Pakistani community this morning at Rice's Baker Institute. He is in the states to convince leaders here that Pakistan needs more U.S. aid to fight extremists.

Pakistan shares a border with Afghanistan where Taliban fighters are at home on both sides of that border. Taliban leaders now openly threaten Pakistan's democratic government and attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan frequently from the region.

"What's at stake is your peace and security," said Qureshi.

As President Obama this week considers sending thousands more U.S. troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, Qureshi urges him to do so now and for years to come.

"What I am asking for is a long-time commitment to Pakistan and Afghanistan and the region, so that we achieve stability and peace in the region," said Qureshi.

U.S. drone attacks have hit Pakistan's border region frequently to take out Taliban and Al-Qaida targets. It is controversial in Pakistan.

Minister Qureshi told us he just wants aid to help his country's army do the fighting, not U.S. soldiers. Houston, by the way, is home to about 70,000 Pakistani citizens.

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