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Thursday, December 17, 2015

US Congress attacks Pakistan: 'Acts only an enemy would commit'

December 17, 2015 10:28 IST

'The clique that runs that country is treating us like suckers. We are very foolish, giving people money who involve themselves in activity that's harmful to America.'
'When you look at the cold hard facts, Pakistan is not an ally to the United States. They have been a protector of our enemies.'
Aziz Haniffa/ reports from Washington, DC.
US Secretary of State John F Kerry, left, with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Washington, DC. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Almost every member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, December 16, slammed Pakistan for its alleged treachery of declaring its strategic loyalty to the US, but simultaneously providing safe havens for and colluding with terrorist groups attacking the US, India and Afghanistan.
Led by Committee Chairman Congressman Ed Royce, California Republican, the members expressed concern over Pakistan's unrelenting development of its nuclear weapons arsenal and pilloried the Obama administration for its policy of continued to provide Islamabad with military and economic largesse, even as its plays this 'double game.'
At a hearing titled, The Future of US-Pakistan Relations, Royce fired the first of several salvos, noting, that 'The committee has repeatedly urged Pakistan to take meaningful action against key Islamist terrorist groups operating within its territory. Unfortunately, Pakistan, which is now home to the world's fastest growing nuclear weapons programme, has remained a fount of radical Islamist thought.'
'It was no surprise that one of the San Bernardino attackers, Tashfeen Malik, studied at a Pakistani school spreading a particularly fundamentalist message,' Royce added.
'Looking back,' Royce recalled, 'the 9/11 terrorist attacks transformed US-Pakistan relations overnight. After more than a decade under sanctions for its nuclear proliferation, Pakistan was to be a key ally in combating Islamist militancy, becoming a leading recipient of US aid in the nearly 15 years since.'
But 'while the US was quick to embrace Pakistan,' Royce stated, 'Pakistan has hardly reciprocated. Pakistani governments have come and gone, but its northwestern frontier has remained a terrorist haven, with its security services supporting what it considers to be good Islamist terrorist groups.'
'These good groups, under Pakistan's calculus, destabilise Afghanistan and threaten neighbouring India, while the government simultaneously opposes what it considers the bad Islamist groups.'
'Today,' Royce said, 'Deobandi schools create an infrastructure of hate -- 600 Deobandi madrasas, funded with Gulf State money, teach intolerant, hate-filled rhetoric that inspires the foot soldiers of jihadist terrorism.'
'I've made three trips to Islamabad to press this issue,' Royce said. 'Pakistan must do the work to register schools and close those creating new generations of radicals. And those are the schools that are being funded with Gulf State money -- the Deobandi schools, and they need to be closed.'
'Pakistan's nuclear arsenal,' Royce said, 'is on track to be the third largest. Its addition of small tactical nuclear weapons in recent years is even more troubling. This is a country which spends a fifth of its budget on the military, from long-range missiles to F-16s, but under 2.5 percent on education.'
'Through all of the double-dealing, US policy has essentially stood still. Security assistance, cash, and arms has continued to flow under the occasional temporary delays. Indeed, despite some Department of Defence assistance for Pakistan being held because of inadequate efforts against the Haqqani network, the State Department is currently seeking more arms for Islamabad.'
'We want a strong partnership with the country, but a new policy is long overdue,' Royce said. 'One option, as (Eliot) Engel (New York Democrat) and I proposed earlier this year, would be to target those officials who maintain relationships with designated terrorist groups, with travel and financial sanctions.'
'This would make it clear,' Royce argued, 'he US and Pakistan cannot have a true strategic partnership, until Pakistan security services cuts ties with terrorist organisations.'
Congressman Ted Poe, Texas Republican, pointed out that the US 'has given Pakistan $30 billion since 9/11,' and asserted, 'Pakistan is a Benedict Arnold ally to the United States. Even going back to May the 2nd, 2011, when there was the raid on -- in Pakistan, on Osama bin Laden, we didn't tell the Pakistanis we were coming, because, frankly, they would snitch us off and Osama bin Laden would have left.'
'And the near confrontation that took place between the US and Pakistan after the raid, Pakistan scrambled two US-made F-16s, and were headed to the area where the raid took place, and a possible confrontation with two US-made jets against American helicopters at the raid didn't happen, but it could have happened,' Poe said.
'I think we need to be very concerned about providing armaments for Pakistan, who seems to play all the sides,' Poe added.
US Secretary of State John F Kerry, right, with Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif in Washington, DC. Photograph: The US State Department'When I was elected 28 years ago,' Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, said, 'I think most people considered me Pakistan's best friend in the House of Representatives. And let me just say that I -- over the years-- have been deeply disappointed that those people who I considered to be my friends were betraying the trust of the United States, and were committing acts that were only the acts that an enemy would commit, even though we continued to have a facade of friendship.'
We've given $30 billion -- $30 billion since 9/11 -- to Pakistan, yet we realised that since 9/11, we still see that there's ample evidence that Pakistan is still deeply involved with various terrorist networks, including supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and radicals who kill Americans.'
'Frankly, our relationship with Pakistan has been a disgrace,' Rohrabacher said. 'We have a government that gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden, the murderer of 3,000 Americans -- 3,000 Americans slaughtered in front of us. I don't think anybody believes that the high-level people in the Pakistan government didn't know about that.'
Rohrabacher complained that Islamabad also 'continues to hold Dr Afridi (who provided the US intelligence with information about bin Laden's whereabouts) just to rub it in our face the type of relationship they have with us.'
'And to their own people, they're slaughtering people, they're slaughtering people in Balochistan, and the Sindhis and others who are being brutally oppressed by a clique in their government.'
'It's not all of Pakistan,' Rohrabacher said, 'but the clique that runs that country is treating us like suckers, and they should, because we are. We're acting foolish. We are very foolish, giving people money who have continually to involve themselves in activity that's harmful to the United States of America, is not going to win their friendship.'
'As an Indian American and the only Indian-American member of Congress,' Dr Amerish 'Ami' Bera, California Democrat, said, 'the stability of the region is incredibly important to me.'
'On the counter-terrorism side, I think post-Mumbai in 2008, India demonstrated incredible restraint in its approach to Pakistan.'
'I would have expected Pakistan to have a much more robust crackdown on the terrorist threats, on the LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayiba) and the Haqqani network and others,' Dr Bera said. 'From the perspective of the Indians, there is almost this side-by-side relationship in in Pakistan with some of these terrorist networks that's almost symbiotic. They live side by side.'
'In some ways,' Dr Bera pointed out, 'it is almost as though they allow these networks to exist in Pakistan to destabilise the region, or to have this constant threat on India.'
Security forces arrested a Pakistani terrorist, Usman Khan, in Jammu in August 2015.
'Pakistan -- let's be truthful about this -- plays a double game,' Congressman Brian Higgins, New York Democrat, asserted. 'They are our military partner, but they are the protector and the patron of our enemies. And this has been going on for 15 years.'
'Since 2002,' Higgins said, 'United States aid to Pakistan, economic and military, has averaged about $2 billion a year. Pakistan's annual defence budget is only about $5 billion a year.'
'Also, Pakistan is involved in an arms race against what it believes is its existential threat with India,' he added. 'In fact, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Pakistan could have 350 nuclear warheads in the next decade, becoming the world's third biggest nuclear power, outpacing India, France, China, and the United Kingdom.'
'We have to call them out on this double game that they have been playing, not this year, not last year, not five years, but for the past 15 years.'
'When you really look at the cold hard facts, Pakistan is not an ally to the United States. They have facilitated, they have encouraged, they have been a protector of the very enemies,' Higgins reiterated.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat and the first and only Hindu American serving in Congress, brought up the role of the ISI and noted that 'there has been evidence time and time again of their direct and indirect connections with the Haqqani network.'
'In 2011,' Gabbard recalled, 'then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani network a veritable arm of the ISI.'
'I think one of the greatest concerns as we look at how closely connected the Haqqani and others are to Pakistan,' Gabbard said, 'is the safety of the nuclear weapons that they have.'
'When you have the Haqqani network being an arm of the ISI,' Gabbard said, 'there was concern that that they could gain access to these nuclear weapons or traffic them or get them into the wrong hands.'
IMAGES: TOP: US Secretary of State John F Kerry, left, with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Washington, DC. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
MIDDLE: US Secretary of State John F Kerry, right, with Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif in Washington, DC. Photograph: The US State Department.
BOTTOM: Security forces arrested a Pakistani terrorist, Usman Khan, in Jammu in August 2015.

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