USIS Washington File

18 August 1998


(Says all four posts in Pakistan will continue to operate) (1080)

Islamabad -- "All four of our posts in Pakistan are going to continue
to operate. At a reduced level of services, but we are going to
continue to be in all four cities," U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Thomas
W. Simons Jr. said August 18 at the International Airport in
Islamabad, where he went to see off the American diplomats, their
families, and other American citizens who were departing under the
State Department's ordered draw down of personnel. At the airport, he
met briefly with the Pakistani and international media.

Following is the text of the Ambassador's remarks and questions and

(Begin text)

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: Let me just say a few words. It is a day that of
course is sad for us. It is sad for the people who are leaving. There
will be disruption of family life. There will be those separations
that happen in the course of a foreign service career. Let me tell you
why it is not sad; we are still here. The Americans are going to
continue to stay here. All four of our posts in Pakistan are going to
continue to operate. At a reduced level of services, but we are going
to continue to be in all four cities. It is a draw down rather than a
pull out. For those of us who are going to be staying, we are here.
For those of us who are leaving, we are coming back, because the
Americans always come back, and we like Pakistan. We are extremely
grateful for the facilitation and protection that the government of
Pakistan has consistently given us over the years. We like being here.
We like the country, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And we have our
dead here. We have been, in what now is Pakistan, for most of the
history of our Republic. Our earliest diplomatic records in the
subcontinent are our consular records from Karachi. We have people
buried here from well before independence. We have been with Pakistan
and in Pakistan since independence. And I say that personally, because
my father arrived here in November 1947. So we are staying. We are
here. We have very important business to continue to conduct in this
country and those of us who are leaving were going to be back.

QUESTION: Ambassador, I am from CNN. The State Department has cited
very serious threats to American facilities and Americans. That's why
the decision has come about for pulling out of many Americans here.
Could you tell us more about these threats?

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: No. No, I really can't. It is a generalized threat.
We are naturally sensitive in the wake of the bombings in Nairobi and
Dar es Salaam. These threats are not Pakistan-specific. There are a
number of countries where we are drawing dawn. I think we have to take
that seriously. We certainly don't want any more dead in Pakistan.
But, these are not Pakistan-specific threats. It is a general pattern
of threats that we are responding to.

QUESTION:  What confidence do you have (inaudible) suspect?

AMBASSADOR SIMONS:  I don't have any comment on that.

QUESTION: How seriously should we take these newspaper reports about
this man and his connections with Afghanistan?

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: I am not going to have any comment on the subject
of an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: How many Americans are going to be involved in this

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: Over two hundred. I don't want to give you precise
figures, but it would be over two hundred.

QUESTION:  But there are some six thousand Americans in Pakistan.

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: Well, for the private Americans, really it is up to
them. I mean, we are willing to facilitate that, but that is going to
be the choice of private citizens. This draw down, as I prefer to call
it, really involves only the official Americans and a very limited
number of private Americans who are joining us.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the private Americans are not joining in

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: Not much. Not very much. I mean, we don't get any
sense of, sort of panic. We know people are thinking about things,
watching events, but there is no great rush for the exit here.

QUESTION:  Are you not concerned?

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: As concerned as we are about anything else. We
certainly offered them the same sorts of facilities that official
Americans are getting. But that really is a matter for individual

QUESTION:  You had a chance to speak with them yesterday.

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: I had a chance to speak with them yesterday. I
think that has been reported somewhat today.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) what were their concerns?

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: I think their concerns were about the same
questions you asked to me. What is the threat? I told them basically
what I told you. And I think they are going to continue to deliberate
on it and watch the situation. But they are calm as we are calm.

QUESTION: I assume you expect more people to join various flights to
leave the country. Americans, I mean.

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: Yes. I do. But I also don't expect a rush for the
exit, as I said.

QUESTION:  It doesn't look too good for Pakistan.

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: Pakistan has been doing very well. I don't think
Pakistanis should feel chagrined or abashed at all. If Americans, as a
result of patterns of threats all over the region -- don't forget we
are drawing dawn in Mongolia, in Eritrea, in Albania as well -- I
don't think Pakistanis should feel singled out by this. And once
again, the Pakistani government could not be more cooperative than
what they are doing.

QUESTION:  There is a feeling that they are being punished.

AMBASSADOR SIMONS:  I can't help that.  They shouldn't feel that.

QUESTION:  Will that affect the Pakistan-American relationship?

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: I can't see that it will. I can't see that it will.
I mean, we have a very important meeting coming up, a week from today.
That is going to continue. Our embassies are open for business. We are
going to continue to have a very important, very vigorous, very vital

QUESTION: (Inaudible) it is an unprecedented, such a quick evacuation

AMBASSADOR SIMONS: I think we have just gotten more efficient. Thank
you very much.

(End text)