June 21, 2002

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Halt aid to Pakistan: Pallone

Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC

The visiting Indo-US Parliamentary Forum delegation witnessed a demonstration this week of how India's best friend on Capitol Hill, Congressman Frank Pallone, defends New Delhi's concerns.

Pallone is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, of which the Forum is the newly formed counterpart in India's Parliament.

June 18, he took to the floor of the House of Representatives urging stoppage of any and all military aid to Pakistan and to make financial assistance to that country conditional on President Pervez Musharraf's promise to eliminate cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

While acknowledging that he could understand the reasons behind Washington's embrace of Islamabad in its war on global terrorism, Pallone said, 'I was skeptical and I remain skeptical that Musharraf could fight both global terrorism and local terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists that still takes place in Kashmir and India.'

'It is now clear that Musharraf's promises to crack down on terrorists at the Line of Control in Kashmir and to crack down on terrorist camps and schools in Pakistan were just promises that went unfulfilled,' he added.

'When a leader says he will crack down on terrorism, but in the same breath makes statements like "Kashmir runs in our blood" or refers to terrorists as "freedom fighters," that should be evidence enough that he is not truthful about ending terrorism.'

Regardless of Musharraf's 'empty promises' on fighting terrorism in Kashmir and despite 'Musharraf's lies about holding democratic elections,' the US had allocated 'hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan in both economic and military aid,' he said.

'I do not think it is appropriate for the US to provide any further aid to Pakistan if this promise [to stop infiltration of Islamic fundamentalists into Kashmir] is not kept. In addition, Musharraf needs to go further than stopping infiltration -- he must eradicate the training camps and schools operating in Pakistan.'

It was also imperative that 'there must be some system for ensuring that Pakistan is accountable for the money that has been allocated by the US. We should demand evidence that although economic aid may be going to schools and other social projects, that the investment is not then freeing up money that is reallocated towards weapons for Islamic militants and resources at terrorist camps.'

'I am so concerned about the US providing further funds to Pakistan without Musharraf holding his word,' he said, and served notice that he would be writing to members of the Foreign Operations appropriators 'to apprise them of the current situation and to encourage them to provide economic aid to Pakistan only on the condition that Musharraf does in fact take concrete steps to alleviate terrorism in Kashmir and to eliminate terrorist training camps.'

He said he would encourage the appropriators 'to steer clear of providing any military aid to Pakistan, regardless of the progress Musharraf makes on terrorism prevention.'

In financial 2002, the US provided Pakistan with $600 million in economic assistance, $73 million for beefing up border security, $75 million in foreign military financing and another $50 million in military assistance. In addition, the recently passed supplemental bill contained $40 million for Pakistan. An additional $250 million is being sought by the administration for economic development and assistance.

'I agree that Pakistan is in dire need of economic and humanitarian assistance, but I strongly object to the military assistance provided to Pakistan by the US, especially considering the fact that Pakistan was not and still is not a democracy,' Pallone said.

Terrorism Strikes in Jammu and Kashmir: The complete coverage

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