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Aziz Haniffa in Washington
Frank Pallone, Congressman and New Jersey Democrat, has slammed the United States administration for ignoring Pakistan's involvement in supplying North Korea critical equipment that was used to start a covert nuclear programme by Pyongyang.
The founder and former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans has written to US President George Bush to reimpose sanctions on Pakistan.
"What I find appalling is that this nuclear programme that the United States worked tirelessly to halt, was in fact sustained through the assistance of Pakistan. Not only did the transfer of critical equipment from Pakistan to North Korea take place around 1997, but in addition, this relationship has continued even after [Pakistan] President [Pervez] Musharraf seized power by force in 1999," wrote Pallone.
"Pakistan is thought to have provided technology even after September 11,2001, which is particularly outrageous," he wrote.
"Your administration has declined to discuss Pakistan's involvement in this crucial situation with North Korea. It is clear that Pakistan most likely exchanged equipment with North Korea for missiles for the purpose of challenging India.
"The reason why I am writing this letter is to urge the administration to conduct a full investigation of Pakistan's role in providing North Korea with nuclear information and equipment," he said.
"It is important to fully explore and disclose particularly to what extent President Musharraf has been involved with North Korea since his military coup in 1999, and even more important, to what extent this relationship between the two nations continued after September 11, 2001," he said.
Pallone also requested Bush to 'take immediate steps to ban all military sales to Pakistan and to reimpose the Symington sanctions on that country for assisting a foreign nuclear weapons programme'.
"I would also urge the administration to ask our allies that may have arms sales to Pakistan in the pipeline to also take similar steps and ban those military sales," he added. "Pakistan cannot be exempted of its responsibility in colluding with North Korea over a nuclear weapons program. This situation poses a direct threat to our allies in Asia and to our safety in the United States."
Bush in his State of the Union speech had called North Korea, Iran and Iraq, the 'axis of evil'. But unlike his gung-ho attitude to invade Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein and take out all Iraq's alleged nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programmes, Washington had decided to use diplomatic and economic pressure to force North Korea to give up nuclear weapons.
"The discovery that North Korea has been secretly enriching uranium for the nuclear weapons programme it promised to freeze in 1994 demonstrates the dangers of putting faith in a confirmed and practiced liar. So does the news that Pakistan provided the nuclear technology and perhaps uranium to Kim Jong II's regime," said The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist James Hoagland in an article on October 24.
"Pakistan's role as a clandestine supplier shatters the Bush administration's efforts to paint that country as a flawed but well-meaning member of the coalition against terror."
"Pakistan today," he said, "is the most dangerous place on earth, in large part because the administration does not understand the forces it is dealing with there and has no policy to contain them."
"Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan is a base from which nuclear technology, fundamentalist terrorism and life-destroying heroin are spread around the globe. The past provides no reason to hope that Musharraf is telling the truth about not helping North Korea now, either. He has paid no price for lying to Powell about ending terrorism in Kashmir or cooperating fully in crushing Al Qaeda," he wrote.
Hoagland also slammed the Bush administration for its economic and military largesse to Islamabad, saying, "The only consequences for duplicity have been rewards and protection. Why in the world would he suddenly change an approach that is working on every level for him?"
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