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The Rediff Interview/Howard Berman
'We want to empower democracy, not a military-controlled regime'
January 30, 2009
The chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Congressman Howard Berman, has said that he is closely reviewing all American assistance being provided to Pakistan and that "to the extent we are going to provide security assistance, it should be focused on counter-terrorism, not rekindling an arms race in South Asia."
Congressman Berman spoke to rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa.
The influential lawmaker also pledged that the Mumbai terror attacks [Images] had not been forgotten and said he would continue to press Pakistan "to acknowledge what happened and deal with it and confront it, particularly since it was their terrorists, (who) came from their country, with connections that may be closer to at least former government officials than acknowledged."
Do you believe the Biden-Lugar legislation has the necessary safeguards to make sure that this aid is not diverted by the Pakistani authorities?
There is this belief among many analysts and intelligence officials that the new democratic government in Pakistan doesn't have the clout and the Army and the ISI still calls the shots. So, how do you reconcile this with Pakistan being such an important ally in the war on terror?
If the military could get all the things they want from us directly, the civilian government will always be weak. The military should accept the principle of civilian control and make their plea to the civilian government. We have some specific military to military issues in terms of counter-terrorism�in terms of our aid and assistance, it should be channeled through the civilian government for the counterterrorism purposes. That empowers the civilian government.
What are the broad contours of US aid to Pakistan?
A major focus on economic assistance, education, humanitarian aid and secondly, to the extent that there is a security assistance component, it's focused on counter-terrorism, not efforts to prepare for some conflict with India.
The Rediff Interviews
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