The U.S. has bought $70,000 worth of air time on seven Pakistani television channels to air an ad showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing the anti-Islamic video that has sparked violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa.
In the 30-second ad that began running Thursday, Obama says, "Since our founding the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate religious beliefs of others."
Clinton appears after Obama and says, "Let me state very clearly that the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents. America's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation."
The ad is subtitled in Urdu, the main Pakistani language.
A U.S. seal is also displayed in the video. The comments by Obama and Clinton are from previous public statements and were not taped specifically for the ad.
"It is common and traditional to have to buy air time on Pakistan TV for public service announcements," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
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On the ad’s purpose, Nuland said, "I think the sense was that this particular aspect of the president and secretary's message needed to be heard by more Pakistanis than had heard it and that this was an effective way to get that message out."
"As you know, after the video came out, there was concern in lots of bodies politic, including Pakistan, as to whether this represented the views of the U.S. government. So, in order to be sure that we reached the largest number of Pakistanis, some 90 million as I understand it in this case with these spots, it was the judgment that this was the best way to do it," Nuland said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar defended her government's decision to declare Friday a holiday to allow people to peacefully protest the video. She said the so-called "day of loving the prophet" would motivate the peaceful majority to demonstrate their love for Muhammad and not allow extremists to turn it into a show of anger against the United States.
"We are very confident this will lessen the violence," Khar said. But, she acknowledged: "There will always be elements that will try to take advantage of these things."
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