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Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - Security Challenges Involving Pakistan and Policy Implications for the Department of Defense


Location: Washington, DC

Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - Security Challenges Involving Pakistan and Policy Implications for the Department of Defense



I'd like to thank the chairman for calling this hearing. I think it's very timely. And I also thank the panel for great testimony.

I think we have the right to be hopeful about this relationship, but we have the duty to be pessimistic and the duty to be sober. And let me spin out a very sobering series of events and ask the panel to comment.

Ambassador Schaffer talked about the likelihood that whomever wins the new round of elections won't have a whole lot of credibility. I think that's self-evident. Let's assume that that government fails to make the war against the terrorists a national mission and they get overwhelmed by the lack of support for what's going on. And let's assume that things further fall apart and the violence that the ambassador made reference to rises and there's a chaotic situation and the jihadist vision that Mr. Haqqani just referenced a minute ago comes to pass.

Given today's circumstances, what probability would each of the panelists put on the likelihood that that vision of a fundamentalist government taking over in Pakistan would occur? Given where we are today, how would you assess the probability of us winding up shortly down the road with an Islamic fundamentalist government running things in Pakistan?

Ambassador, how would you assess that?

MS. SCHAFFER: Given a halfway decent performance by the next government, I would assess it at relatively low; say, on the order of --

REP. ANDREWS: Yeah, what if the performance fails?

MS. SCHAFFER: If the performance is bad and is seen to be bad, by which I mean trouble in the streets, tapering off of economic growth, visible and obvious reverses by the army in dealing with the frontier areas, then I have a real concern that a hybrid government of the sort that now seems to be a possibility would tarnish all the participants in it and would set the stage possibly for the religious parties to do better than they historically have.

Now, let me distinguish between the religious parties and the militants. The religious parties are participants in the political process. They are not themselves people who take up arms. They include their share, some would say more than their share, of people who are in it for the patronage.

The militants are people who are prepared to use violence. But there is some overlap between the two groups.

REP. ANDREWS: So how would you assess the probability the militants would ascend?

MS. SCHAFFER: The only way I can see that happening would be if they made common cause with somebody in the army.

REP. ANDREWS: Dr. Weinbaum, what's your assessment?

MR. WEINBAUM: Yes, I think that I would add to what Ambassador Schaffer has said. It really depends on what happens with the mainstream of Pakistan's politics. I think the great hope here, based on the past, is that most Pakistanis really do support moderate mainstream politics. These parties are not programmatic parties as such, but they have dominated.

As you've heard this figure so many times, the religious parties at best get 11 percent of the vote. The great fear would be that if a military government -- and Musharraf has been doing this -- if it continues here to sideline the moderate parties, if it encumbers the moderate parties, that there will be effectively a vacuum.

And so then the alternative to the military will be a solution which is promulgated by the religious parties.

REP. ANDREWS: Mr. Haqqani, remember, my question, the premise of it was that we had a failed credibility of the new government. So what happens if that happens?

MR. HAQQANI: In case of the failed credibility of the government, the Pakistan army will still have residual strength to be able to keep things under control for maybe another five, seven years. But 10 years down the road, unless Pakistan's internal crises are addresses -- and there are multiple crises; there's the tribal areas, there's the economic injustices --

REP. ANDREWS: You think it's high.

MR. HAQQANI: I think that in 10 years it could be very high unless those crises are addressed.

REP. ANDREWS: Thank you.

Ms. Curtis, what do you think?

MS. CURTIS: Well, first, I think your scenario -- I think the chances are very low so long as a general election is held and is perceived as credible. I think the scenario that you spell out is more likely in the event that we don't move forward with a political process and returning to civilian democratic rule.

REP. ANDREWS: Why wouldn't you favor conditioning U.S. aid on at least holding a general election, then? Because you said there shouldn't be any condition to U.S. aid. Wouldn't it make sense to say, "We don't care about the outcome, just so you have to have the election"?

MS. CURTIS: I think it's complex, and I think we need to encourage elections, but we can do that diplomatically. Our statements mean a lot. When we call on the government to release opposition politicians, it matters. So I think our statements mean a lot, but conditioning the assistance sends the wrong signal.

REP. ANDREWS: Thank you. I see my time has expired.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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