Indian-Americans’ ‘Washington Chalo’ seeks tough line on Pakistan

January 28th, 2009 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 28 (IANS) In a “Washington Chalo” campaign in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, over 200 Indian-American community leaders from across the US have urged lawmakers to take a tougher line on terrorism emanating out of Pakistan.Spearheaded by the Indian-American Task Force, the “Washington Chalo (march)” campaign capped day-long meetings Tuesday with some 60 members of the Congress and a reception in the evening at the Capitol Hill. The group also met prominent policy makers Monday.

The campaign raised awareness about the escalating global terrorism, specifically directed against Indian and Western targets, said a leader of the task force made up of leading Indian-American organisations.

The group held a series of meetings with India Caucus co-chairs Democrat Jim McDermott and Republican Joe Wilson, top Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, and leading Democrat Congressmen including Van Hollen, Steve Israel, Frank Pallone, Joe Crowley and Paul Hodes.

“I am proud to meet Indian-American community leaders of the task force dedicated to raising awareness and understanding within Washington policy circles about the nature, extent, and ramifications of last November’s Mumbai attacks,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

“We must continue to work together to shed light on the true reach of the Islamist militant global network operating out of Pakistan,” she added.

“We identified many lawmakers who are willing to champion the need to make firmer demands of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism,” said Sanjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), a member of the coalition.

“We intend to keep the issue alive in the US Congress to ‘condition’ future US military aid on Pakistan’s efforts to close down terrorist training camps and better accountability of the funds,” he added.

Representative McDermott, who had earlier sponsored an India resolution after the Mumbai attacks, pledged strong support on this issue.

“I was very pleased to have a productive meeting with USINPAC and this passionate group of Americans of Indian origin to reinforce for us the importance and depth of the circumstances surrounding the Mumbai attacks,” he said.

“Our meeting highlighted why the Mumbai attacks represented not just an assault on freedom in India, but freedom anywhere. I hope to keep this dialogue front and center in Washington,” said McDermott.

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