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Letter to the Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State and The Honorable Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Feinstein Calls for Assessment of Pakistan's Commitment to Fight Terrorism and Cooperate with the U.S. Before Providing Additional Security Assistance

Senators send letter to Secretaries Clinton and Gates

In response to the recent discovery of Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, a group of U.S. Senators are questioning Pakistan's commitment to combating terrorism, and leading an effort in the Senate to re-evaluate U.S. security assistance to Pakistan. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Jon Tester (D-MT) call on the Administration to assess Pakistan's commitment to combating terrorism on its own soil before providing additional assistance through the FY 11 and FY12 budgets. The letter urges the Administration to assess Pakistan's commitment to and efforts toward the following core benchmarks: ceasing support to extremist and terrorist groups; preventing Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated terrorist groups from operating on the territory of Pakistan; and strengthening counterterrorism and anti-money laundering laws.
"At a time when we are contemplating cutbacks to foreign assistance programs and scrutinizing every domestic program to ensure maximum effectiveness, it is incongruous to be providing enormous sums to the Pakistani military unless we are certain that it is meeting its commitment to locate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist threats inside its borders. Prior to the provision of any additional security assistance, including Coalition Support Funds and Pakistan Counterinsurgency/Counterinsurgency Capability Funds, we urge you to assess Pakistan's commitment to and efforts toward: (A) ceasing support to extremist and terrorist groups; (B) preventing Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated terrorist groups from operating on the territory of Pakistan; and (C) strengthening counterterrorism and anti-money laundering laws," the Senators wrote in the letter.

Currently the third largest recipient of U.S. security assistance after Afghanistan and Israel, Pakistan received a total of $2.7 billion in security assistance and reimbursements in FY2010 alone - a staggering 140 percent increase since 2007. This includes $1.5 billion in direct reimbursements to Pakistan's Treasury through the Coalition Support Fund -- an amount that is double the amount provided the previous fiscal year.

Full text of the letter follows:

May 17, 2011

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State

The Honorable Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense

Congratulations on the success of your efforts to locate and bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. This achievement will allow our nation to begin looking forward and to assess our next steps in the continuing effort to combat terrorist threats against Americans.

In this context, we are gravely concerned about the commitment of Pakistan's security establishment to fighting terrorism, specifically its efforts to locate and disrupt terrorist activity within its borders. The discovery of Osama Bin Laden in a military town less than forty miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad indicates, at a minimum, a lack of commitment by the Pakistani military to aggressive cooperation with the United States. This is particularly concerning as the Congress again considers increasing security assistance to Pakistan.

In the last five years, the United States has dramatically increased security assistance and reimbursement to Pakistan making it the third largest recipient of such funds after Afghanistan and Israel. U.S. security-related assistance to Pakistan has increased by 140% since 2007 to $2.7 billion in FY 2010. This includes large increases in direct reimbursements to Pakistan's Treasury through the Coalition Support Fund -- a fund intended to reimburse U.S. allies for incremental costs associated with supporting U.S. combat operations. In FY 2010, the United States reimbursed Pakistan for $1.5 billion in expenses through the Coalition Support Fund, which represents more than double the amount provided the previous fiscal year.

At a time when we are contemplating cutbacks to foreign assistance programs and scrutinizing every domestic program to ensure maximum effectiveness, it is incongruous to be providing enormous sums to the Pakistani military unless we are certain that it is meeting its commitment to locate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist threats inside its borders. Prior to the provision of any additional security assistance, including Coalition Support Funds and Pakistan Counterinsurgency/Counterinsurgency Capability Funds, we urge you to assess Pakistan's commitment to and efforts toward: (A) ceasing support to extremist and terrorist groups; (B) preventing Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated terrorist groups from operating on the territory of Pakistan; and (C) strengthening counterterrorism and anti-money laundering laws.

We believe that conducting this assessment will be crucial for the Congress to determine whether to provide the full range of security assistance called for in the FY 11 Continuing Resolution and the FY 12 budget.

We share your commitment to addressing all terrorist threats to our nation and we recognize the strategic importance of Pakistan. However, we cannot overlook the logical conclusion of recent events, which is to question whether the Pakistani security establishment is ardently working to prevent terrorist groups from operating on Pakistani soil.

Sincerely,

Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Ben Nelson
Senator Jon Tester
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Max Baucus


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