Vice President Biden to Pakistan: Fight Extremism or Be ‘Consumed’ By It

Jan 12, 2011 8:17am

ABC News’ Nick Schifrin and Karen Travers report: Vice President Joe Biden made an unannounced trip to Pakistan today to try and push government and military leaders to crack down on militants and shore up a shaky economy.

Biden delivered that message in private and in public, one week after a prominent politician was assassinated and crowds across the country celebrated his killer.

“Societies that tolerate such actions wind up being consumed by those actions,” Biden said to the media in prepared remarks.

Biden was in the country for only about 6 hours and did not meet any Pakistanis who do not work in the government or military. He traveled by motorcade under extraordinary security from the airport to the U.S. embassy, then onto the Presidential palace, the prime minister’s residence, and the military’s headquarters before departing for an unannounced destination.‬

He had arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he spent a day and a half in three different provinces, meeting with President Hamid Karzai, U.S. troops, and U.S. diplomats in a trip that was far more extensive than the one he made to Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, Biden said the United States military needed more help from Pakistan if it was going to permanently push out the Taliban.

“It’s going to require more pressure — more pressure on the Taliban, from Pakistan’s side of the border, than we’ve been — we’ve been able to exert so far,” Biden said in a statement delivered next to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

After his arrival in Islamabad, Biden traveled to the U.S. embassy, where he met with American officials, including the new U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter. He later sat down with Pakistani President Zadari at the presidential palace.

The press was allowed to observe the beginning of their meeting, when Biden joked with Zardari, whom he has known for years.

“We should act like we know each other,” the vice president quipped. “I’ve known the president long enough that I used to have hair.”

“Is he making fun of me?” Zadari asked.

Biden laughed and ran his hand over his thinning hair and asked a Pakistani official, “What are you laughing at?”

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