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October 28, 1999
US Congressmen cajole Clinton to tighten screws on Pak
A United States house of representatives panel has urged President Bill Clinton against using his newly acquired powers to waive nuclear-related sanctions ''to allow the sale of any military equipment or services'' to Pakistan ''until a civilian, democratically-elected government is returned to power'' there.
A resolution, passed by a voice vote at the Asia Pacific panel of the International Relations Committee yesterday, expressed concern at the military coup and called for ''rapid'' restoration of civilian rule in that country.
It, however, deleted the provision, which asked the president ''not to consider reinstatement of Pakistan's eligibility for international military education and training.''
Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, was the only member who voted against the deletion and insisted on sending a strong message to the military ruler for toppling the democratically-elected government of Nawaz Sharief.
The resolution was moved by Democratic Congressman Sam Gejdenson. His party colleagues Gary Ackerman and Tom Lantos were its co-sponsors.
Earlier, Gejdenson said the cause of democracy in Pakistan had suffered a mortal wound. It was a sad irony that the president signed a bill a couple of days ago, which gave him the authority to waive sanctions against India and Pakistan and ''we are today (Wednesday) marking up a resolution asking him to not waive at least the military aspect of these sanctions against Pakistan,'' he added.
Ackerman, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans said, ''I strongly believe that the administration will be doing a great mistake if it in any way initiates measures to accommodate the military rulers simply citing the supercilious argument that 'there is no alternative in sight'.''
''Notwithstanding General Pervez Musharraf's moderate words, we should not be lulled into thinking that this will be a moderate government,'' he added. He called upon General Musharraf to immediately announce a timetable for the restoration of democracy.
Earlier, the panel unanimously adopted the Congressman's other resolution, urging President Clinton to ''broaden our (US) special relationship with India into a strategic partnership.''
It urged the president to travel to India as it ''continues to be a shining example of democracy for all of Asia to follow.'' It congratulated Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his re-election.
Speaking on his resolution, Ackerman said, ''the contrasting events in India and Pakistan over a single 24 hour period speak eloquently about the new challenges and opportunities that we face in South Asia. In India, we have seen hundreds of millions of voters enthusiastically exercise their votes in a free and fair election.''
''It is high time we seriously begin to recognise this fact and graduate from mere platitudes to some tangible policy changes towards India,'' he added.
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