Pakistan hasn’t checked terror, shouldn’t be given aid: US leaders (Lead)

December 8th, 2008 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanFords (New Jersey), Dec 8 (IANS) Pakistan has come under severe criticism from American leaders in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks for failing to take action against terrorists who operate from its soil. While Senior Congressman Frank Pallone has called Pakistan a “failed state”, Senator Robert Menendez has warned that the country may lose billions of dollars in US aid.”Pakistan is essentially a failed state. I do not believe the central government controls most of the territory of the country,” Pallone, a Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey, said here Sunday at a meeting to pay homage to the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks.

“It is obvious that in the area near Afghanistan, which is used by Al Qaeda and the Taliban as a way to move into Afghanistan and oppose American forces there, there is no control. It is obvious that even though they have outlawed the organisations that were trying to sever Kashmir from India, they continue (to exist). So the government really has no control,” he said.

At the same condolence meeting, Menendez said: “I do not believe in giving foreign assistance to countries that are unwilling to fight terrorism in their own country.”

Representing New Jersey in the Senate, Democratic Menendez has long been known as a friend of India and Indian Americans. A member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he is also chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, which oversees all US assistances abroad.

In the post-Taliban era, Pakistan has received aid to the tune of $10 billion. Many US lawmakers, including vice president-elect Joe Biden, have gone on record to say that this massive aid to Pakistan has been used to build up the Pakistan Army against India rather than fight terrorism within its country, particularly its tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.

Both India and the US have insisted that the Mumbai terror attack was planned in Pakistan and its leaders are based in Pakistan. As such, both the countries want Pakistan to immediately take action against those who were responsible for the Mumbai attack, which is compared to the attack on the twin towers in New York in September 2001.

As many as 172 people, including several foreign nationals, were killed in Mumbai after a group of terrorists from Pakistan went on the rampage in the city Nov 26. Many of those killed were from the US.

Expressing solidarity with the people of India and Indian Americans in the aftermath of terror attack in Mumbai, Menendez said: “On Nov 26, all of us were Indians.”

Condemning the Mumbai carnage, Pallone said the terrorists involved in the attack tried to give the impression that they were local Indian Muslims.

“The fact was that they were not. They were not the Muslims in India. They were those Muslims who were trained in Pakistan and came from Pakistan,” he said.

Indian and US intelligence agencies have said that the terrorist attack in Mumbai was planned and executed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit based in Pakistan.

Observing that both the US and India have a common cause in fighting these terrorists, Menendez said the views of India and Indian Americans at this point of time coincide with America’s national interest and its national security as well.

However, Pallone opposed any attack on Pakistan by India at this point of time. This, he said, would be a big mistake because the terrorists want to create conflict and tension in the region.

“So I think, right now, all the governments are trying (to prevent this). In my opinion, let this not be an excuse for another war between India and Pakistan,” he said.

Pallone said the upcoming Barack Obama administration needs to put a lot of pressure on Pakistan and make it clear that if it wants to have any kind of relationship with or receive assistance from the US, there have to be strings attached.

“The US has sent both the secretary of state as well as military leaders to both India and Pakistan. I know that the new Obama administration and the new secretary of state Hillary Clinton want to do whatever they can to shore up India’s security,” he said.

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