U.S. SHOULD NOT SELL ARMS TO PAKISTAN
Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor this evening to discuss a contract recently awarded by the U.S. Government to Lockheed Martin for 18 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods, or ATPs, to be sold to the Government of Pakistan. Sniper ATPs allow aircrews to perform intelligence, targeting, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from extended standoff ranges.
Mr. Speaker, I believe it is irresponsible for the U.S. Government to sell high-grade weapons technology to Pakistan, a nation that has turned a blind eye to the increasingly dangerous Taliban insurgency in the western region of its country.
Numerous press accounts in recent months have discussed the growing presence of Taliban training camps and bases in the tribal regions of western Pakistan that border Afghanistan. Just last week, in the port city of Karachi, over 40 people were killed, with even more injured during 2 days of gun battles and mayhem in response to an antigovernment rally. Most reports claim that this violence against protesters was perpetrated by the Muttahida Quami Movement, or MQM, which is an ethnically based Mafia allied with Pakistani President Musharraf.
In a country that claims to be somewhat democratic, the actions of the MQM and President Musharraf seem to be just the opposite. Coupled with the Pakistani President's refusal to put forth a good-faith effort to root out Taliban insurgents in his country, it hardly seems like a good idea for the United States to be selling arms to the Government of Pakistan.
Earlier this year, Democrats passed H.R. 1, which implemented the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. Included in this bill was language that would end U.S. military assistance and arms sales licensing to Pakistan in the 2008 fiscal year unless Pakistani President Musharraf certifies that the Islamabad government is ``making all possible efforts to end Taliban activities on Pakistani soil.''
I believe that the U.S. should live up to this commitment by ceasing the sale of arms to the Government of Pakistan. I fear that if we do, in fact, provide these weapons technologies to countries in unstable regions, such as Pakistan, they could be used against U.S. allies, such as India.
This U.S. policy of military sales to Pakistan will contribute to increasing security concerns throughout South Asia. The U.S. has no way of knowing if these technologies will be used against al Qaeda and the Taliban, and not against India or other peaceful nations. In fact, the government has simply watched while terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, or LET, committed terrorist acts in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India. The actions within its own country prove themselves not fit for, in this case Pakistan, for receiving these weapons.
Mr. Speaker, although Pakistan has claimed to be an ally in the global war on terror, it clearly has not taken the necessary steps to end terrorism in its own backyard. I strongly believe that economic assistance is necessary to support economic restructuring that will stop Pakistan from becoming a breeding ground for terrorists.
At the time after 9/11, when we decided that we would allow economic assistance to Pakistan and development assistance, I was all for it because I think it makes sense; that's the way to lead to a democratic and stable Pakistan. But military assistance is another matter. Allowing this sale sends the wrong message, I think, particularly in the climate that we live in here today, and what Pakistan has been doing in not living up to its part of the deal in fighting the Taliban.