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Hearing of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - "2014 and Beyond: U.S. Policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, Part I"

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U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, today delivered an opening statement during the panel's hearing entitled "2014 and Beyond: U.S. Policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, Part I." The following are his remarks as prepared for delivery.

"There's an old saying, well known to all of us, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'

Unfortunately, this is nonsense. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, that's it. There are no implied obligations or warranties. International politics has no freebies.

To state what should be obvious, but somehow is not: Pakistan--meaning both the nominally democratic civilian government and the unelected but ultimately decisive Pakistani military establishment--is not our friend. They are not our allies; they are not our partners; they are not on our team; they are not on our side. And no matter how much aid we give them, no matter what military capabilities we provide them, and no matter what promises, assurances or pledges we make to them, these facts are not going to change.

Pakistan is on its own side, period. Notwithstanding the considerable number of Pakistanis who'd like to try life in the United States, or the great success story of the many truly loyal Pakistani-Americans who have done so and contribute so much to their new country, 75 percent of Pakistanis in Pakistan have an unfavorable opinion of our country and believe the United States is the source of that country's problems.

That's just a little piece of what $22 billion of our taxpayer's money has bought us since 2002 in Pakistan. A considerable part of those funds have also enhanced Pakistan's nuclear weapons delivery capability, notwithstanding neither our non-proliferation laws nor the purported limitations we've insisted upon with regard to the F-16 fighter bombers we've sold them.

At the same time, there is simply no question that Pakistan has been a critical facilitator of our campaign to drive al-Qaida out of Afghanistan and to dismantle and eliminate it's capacity to conduct world-wide terrorist operations. Pakistan's tacit cooperation has also been essential to our efforts to help establish an independent, democratic government in Afghanistan. The bulk of the fuel, ammunition and other supplies for our troops are sent through Pakistan. Critical counter-terrorist assets of ours depend on Pakistani cooperation to operate effectively. Pakistan has been critical to the apprehension and delivery to justice of key figures in al-Qaida.

So Pakistan is essential. But Pakistan is also perfidious, and that's our problem in a nutshell.

While cooperating with us, Pakistan has also been a critical facilitator of Taliban and other violent, radical jihadist organizations attacking our troops, seeking to undermine the Afghan government, and conducting terrorism against our allies. These facts are not secret. One need not have access to classified information to know the details of Pakistan's partnership with violent religious extremists, one only needs access to newspapers and magazines.

It is not a secret that the Afghan Taliban has been based in Quetta, Pakistan, since Afghan and U.S. forces drove them out of Afghanistan in 2002. Quetta is not an especially big city and the Taliban presence isn't even particularly discrete. From Quetta, the leadership of the Taliban, everyday, is orchestrating attacks on the Afghan government and our troops.

It is not a secret that the Haqqani Network is responsible for numerous attacks on the Afghan government and on our troops. It is not a secret that the Lashkar e-Taiba which was responsible for the horrific November 2006 massacre of civilians in Mumbai, India, an attack that clearly implicated the Pakistani military, operates openly in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has made no effort to interfere, disrupt, arrest, or shut down any of these groups or their activities.

It is no secret that Osama Bin Laden was living comfortably in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Pakistan insists it had no knowledge or complicity in his presence there. I'd like to think that if the most wanted criminal in the history of criminals purchased a sizable parcel of land and built a secure compound less than a mile from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, just 32 miles from our capital, we would know about it.

Pakistan is not our pal, our buddy or our chum. It is a sovereign state pursuing its own self-defined interests in what it perceives to be a tough neighborhood, but they help make it tough. And to state yet another obvious fact, Pakistan's self-defined national interests have very limited overlap with our own. In that small area where their interests and ours converge, we can and do cooperate. And the rest of the time they cooperate in varying levels of commission and omission with the people killing our troops, conducting terrorist acts against our allies and trying to bring down the Afghan government.

Currently, the United States has designated Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba as state sponsors of terrorism under U.S. law. Such a designation requires a ban on arms-related exports and sales; strict controls over exports of dual-use items; a prohibition on economic assistance and imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. But for our genuine need for cooperation in the campaign against al-Qaida, there appears to be very little standing in the way of designating Pakistan as a state-sponsor of terrorism. Very, very, very little.

Were that it were so, but it's time to wake up from the naïve and sentimental dream that there is friendship and broad cooperation, and accept reality. Pakistan's national interests are generally contrary to ours and those of our actual allies, and they pursue those contrary interests through the use of violent proxies and terrorism. That's not going to change.

It's time for our policy and our assistance to come back into relation with reality instead of fanciful expectation. Paying Pakistan to kill bad guys makes sense. Bribing Pakistan --that's what our aid really is--for license and cooperation in our efforts to kill bad guys is also reasonable. But we need to rid ourselves of the absurd notion that we can change Pakistan, reform its government, or create real trust. We have neither the capacity nor the capability, and we certainly don't have the spare billions to keep throwing away on these fool's errands. No more magical thinking. It's time to grow up and deal with Pakistan as it is, not as we hope or wish it to be."

Witnesses for the hearing included Zalmay Khalilzad, Ph.D., a Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Lieutenant General David W. Barno, a Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security; Ashley J. Tellis, Ph.D., a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and C. Christine Fair, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.


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