India crucial to defeating terrorist threat in Pakistan, says USMay 22nd, 2009 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS
By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 22 (IANS) Recognising India as “an increasingly important strategic partner” of America, the top US military official has underlined the importance of India in accomplishing the goal to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
“Of particular importance in accomplishing this goal is India, which has emerged as an increasingly important strategic partner of the United States,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a key Senate panel Thursday.
“The historic regional security dynamics between Pakistan and India complicate an already complex situation, he said. But he noted “some progress in transparency and timeliness of communications between the two nations, particularly in the aftermath of the attacks in Mumbai last November.
“To the extent that we can continue to assist our two partners in resolving points of potential conflict and cooperating to address extremist threats to both nations, the better will be the effects of our actions already underway in South Central Asia,” Mullen said.
Mullen faced a grilling from Democrat members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over an administration request for 400 million dollars to help Islamabad with counter-insurgency operations against Islamist militants.
Several US senators insisted on imposing conditions on proposed military assistance to Pakistan, saying that past aid had been delivered without strings attached.
“There is a significant unease here in Congress over what has happened previously in the transfer of our funds,” Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the committee, said.
Under the previous Bush administration, there was little accountability for billions of dollars’ worth of military assistance for Pakistan, he said.
“Many of us did not learn until last year some time that for those six or seven years that the prior administration was transferring very significant sums of money to Pakistan, we didn’t have a clue where it was going,” Kerry said.
“And we learned subsequently that most of it was going into their general budget. That is not going to fly here and they need to know that,” he said.
Kerry and other senators said they had proposed legislation that would ensure “adequate levels of scrutiny, accountability.”
Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, said he had introduced an amendment that would prohibit the funds from being used to support the development or deployment of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Mullen told the committee the US administration was trying to build trust with the Pakistani government and that it was crucial the military assistance package was not overloaded with restrictions and conditions.
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