Home > US Edition > Report
US panel gives Bush administration
wakeup call regarding Pakistan
Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC |
May 08, 2003 12:23 IST
In a major victory for India, the House International Relations Committee late on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution requiring the Bush Administration to disclose to Congress the extent to which Pakistan is fulfilling its pledge to permanently halt cross-border terrorism, shut down terrorist camps in PoK and eschew proliferation of nuclear weapons.
This is the first time the main foreign policy panel in Congress has acknowledged in a bipartisan manner Pakistan's role in fomenting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and virtually accused it of proliferating nuclear weapons technology.
The resolution acquires special significance as it comes on the eve of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's visit to Islamabad and his meetings with President Gen Pervez Musharraf and other senior Pakistani officials where he will seek Islamabad's commitments on these very issues.
It is certainly a slap in the face for Pakistan that has vehemently denied any complicity in promoting cross-border terrorism or clandestinely transferring nuclear weapons technology and expertise to North Korea as the Central Intelligence Agency has alleged.
Wednesday's resolution was the outcome of the efforts of the pro-India lobby led by the nascent US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) and Eni Faleomavaega, a Democrat Congressman who represents American Samoa, who authored and pushed through the resolution before the panel.
Faleomavaega is a ranking member of the International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
USINPAC members, led by its founder and president Sanjay Puri and Manish Thakur, co-chair of USINPAC's Strategic and Defense Affairs Committee, had first convinced Faleomavaega to introduce the resolution and then had reached out to both Republican and Democratic members of the committee to build support for the resolution.
Their efforts paid off handsomely as even the chairman of the panel Congressman Henry Hyde, from Illinois, had said he would vote for the resolution and convince his Republican colleagues to do the same.If they can get the senate committee to adopt a similar amendment, both resolutions would have to be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee, before the resolution can be enacted as a Sense of the Congress.
An elated Thakur said, "In passing this amendment, the House is sending a clear message that all terrorism is wrong, wherever it occurs in the world, and harbouring terrorists or proliferating technology associated with weapons of mass destruction can no longer be tolerated."
The resolution titled, Section 708, Report on Action Taken by Pakistan, states:
For each of fiscal years 2004 and 2005, the US President shall prepare and transmit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that contains a description of the extent to which the government of Pakistan:
(1) has closed all known terrorist training camps operating in Pakistan and Pakistan-held Kashmir;
(2) has established serious and identifiable measures to prohibit the infiltration of Islamic extremists across the 'Line of Control' into India;
(3) has ceased the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, including any associated technologies, to any third country or terrorist organisation.
After the vote, Faleomavaega said, "Pakistan remains a dictatorship while only a few years ago, it was a democracy. By contrast, India has demonstrated that democracy can take root and prosper in non-Western cultures as well."
Congressman Joseph Crowley, New York Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, who is also a member of the House International Relations committee, said after the vote, "It will make a tangible difference by putting the issue of cross-border terrorism and nuclear proliferation firmly on the record."
Puri and Thakur acknowledged the support of the Indian American community from across the country, who they said had called members of Congress and members of the Committee, urging them to support the Faleomavaega resolution.
The resolution will now go to the full House. The pro-Pakistan lobby is expected to go on overdrive to prevent its passage in the US House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, USINPAC is working toward getting a clone of the resolution introduced in the US senate, possibly in the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.