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Prepared Remarks of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) on the Floor of the U.S. Senate

Location: Washington, DC



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SEN. KERRY: I rise today to introduce the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act. I believe this legislation will fundamentally change America's policy toward Pakistan, and I hope that over time it will fundamentally change America's relationship with the people of Pakistan as well. I especially want to thank my colleague Senator Lugar for his partnership in crafting this bill and his ongoing leadership on this issue.

Mr. President, It is hard to overstate the importance to our national security of Pakistan, a nation which could either serve as a force for stability and progress in a volatile region-or become an epicenter for radical and violence on a cataclysmic scale.

This is a nation of striking contradictions and divergent paths forward:

On one hand, we all know that Pakistan is a nation where Osama bin Laden and the leadership of Al Qaeda have found sanctuary for the past seven years-a haven from which they and their confederates have plotted and carried out attacks on their host country, on neighboring countries, and on sites around the globe; a nation that has in recent weeks seen the Taliban advance to within 60 miles of its capitol; and a nation with a full arsenal of nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles capable of delivering them anywhere in a thousand- kilometer range.

On the other hand, Pakistan is also a nation whose 170 million people are overwhelmingly moderate, overwhelmingly committed to democracy and rule of law; a Major Non-NATO Ally that has sacrificed the lives of 1,500 of its soldiers and police in the fight against terrorism and insurgency; and a nation that has lost more of its citizens to the scourge of terrorism than all but a tiny handful of countries throughout the world.

In short, Pakistan has the potential either to be crippled by the Taliban, or to serve as a bulwark against everything the Taliban represents.

That's why the Obama Administration and many of us in Congress saw the need for a bold, new strategy for Pakistan: The status quo has not brought success, the stakes could not be higher, and we have little choice but to think big. The Enhanced Partnership With Pakistan Act is the centerpiece of this new approach, which is why President Obama has called on Congress to pass it.

An earlier version of this bill was reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee in July-with overwhelming bipartisan support. This version builds upon its predecessor in a number of important ways: First, Kerry-Lugar directs $100 million toward an urgent need: police reform and equipping; second, it mandates strict accountability from the Administration as to every dollar is spent-using benchmarks and metrics to measure and adapt our performance; third, in light of the acute security challenge on the ground today, this bill gives our Ambassador the flexibility needed to respond to events as they unfold.

Mr. President, this bill is urgently needed:

For decades, the U.S. has sought the cooperation of Pakistani decision-makers through military aid, while paying scant attention to the wishes of the population itself. This arrangement is rapidly disintegrating: we feel we're paying too much and getting too little- and most Pakistanis believe exactly the opposite. As a result, an alarming percentage of the Pakistani population sees America as a greater threat than Al Qaeda. Until this changes, there's little chance of ending tolerance for terrorist groups- or persuading any Pakistani government to devote the political capital necessary to deny such groups sanctuary and covert material support.

The dangers of inaction are rising almost by the day. In the month since President Obama called on Congress to pass the bill we are now introducing, the situation on the ground in Pakistan has deteriorated significantly. The government struck an ill-advised deal that effectively surrendered the Swat Valley to the Taliban. The deal, predictably, emboldened the Taliban to deploy the same brutal tactics they'd used in both Pakistan and Afghanistan-and to use their base in Swat to extend their reach ever closer to the country's heartland.

Ultimately, it will be Pakistanis, not Americans, who must determine their nation's future. But we can change the nature of our relationship and empower those Pakistanis who are fighting to steer the world's second-largest Muslim country onto a path of moderation, stability, and regional cooperation. That's the foundation of the bill that Sen. Lugar and I are introducing.

I have seen firsthand how this approach can work:

Following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the U.S. spent nearly $1 billion on relief efforts- and having visited places like Mansehra and Muzaffarabad in the earthquake's aftermath, I can personally attest to the awesome power of this operation. The sight of American servicemen and women saving the lives of Pakistani citizens was invaluable in changing perceptions of America.

In the wake of natural disaster, we weren't the only ones to recognize the need for public diplomacy based in deeds rather than words: the front-group for the terrorist organization Lashkar-e Taeba set up a string of professional relief camps throughout the region. But our effort was far more effective-and the permanent gift of the US Army's last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH, helped seal the deal. For a brief period, America was going toe-to-toe with extremists in a true battle of hearts and minds-and actually winning.

It's up to us to recreate this success on a broader scale, without waiting for a natural (or man-made) disaster. The question is: how can we most effectively demonstrate the true friendship of the American people for the Pakistani people?

This bill is an important first step. It is a prime example of "smart power" because it uses both economic and military aid to achieve an overall effect that is greater than the sum of its parts.

On the economic side, this bill triples non-military aid to $1.5 billion annually, for five years, and urges an additional five years of funding. These funds will build schools, roads, and clinics-in other words, they aim to do on a regular basis what we briefly achieved with our earthquake relief. But this money will do a great deal more than good deeds:

It will empower the fledgling civilian government to show that it can deliver the citizens of Pakistan a better life.

It will empower the moderates, who will have something concrete to put forward as evidence that friendship with America bring rewards as well as perils.

And it will empower the vast majority of Pakistanis who reject the terrifying vision of Al Qaeda and the Taliban-but who have been angered and frustrated by the perception that their own leaders and America's leaders don't care about their daily struggle.

To do this right, we must make a long-term commitment. Most Pakistanis feel that America has used and abandoned their country in the past- most notably, after the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. They fear we'll desert them again the moment that the threat from Al Qaeda subsides. It is this history, and this fear, that causes Pakistan to hedge its bets. If we ever expect Pakistan to break decisively with the Taliban and other extremist groups, then we will have to provide firm assurance that we're not merely foul-weather friends. By authorizing funds through 2013 and hopefully longer, this bill offers just such an assurance. On the security side, the bill places conditions on military aid that will ensure that this money is used for the intended purposes. In order for Pakistan to receive any military assistance, it must meet an annual certification that its army and spy services are genuine partners:

* in the struggle against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups (including Lashkar-e Taeba, the perpetrators of the Mumbai massacre of last November);

* in the battle against the Taliban and its affiliates, who threaten our troops in Afghanistan from their sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal areas; and

* in the effort to solidify democratic governance and rule of law in Pakistan.

These conditions are reasonable, and should be easy for any nation receiving American aid to meet.

As important as the economic and military components of the bill is how they fit together: Making this unequivocal commitment to the Pakistani people enables us to calibrate our military assistance more effectively. In any given year we may choose to increase it, or to decrease it, or to leave its level unchanged. For too long, the Pakistani military have felt we were bluffing when we've threatened to cut funding for a particular weapons system or expensive piece of hardware-and up to now, they've been right. But if our economic aid is tripled to $1.5 billion, we can afford to end this game. We'll finally be able to make this choice on the basis of both of our national interests, rather than the institutional interests of the Pakistani security forces.

Let me be clear on the issue of military aid: This bill takes no position on the level of such assistance-deliberately. I can envision a significant increase in military aid as easily as a decrease: the Pakistani army needs more helicopters, more night-vision capability, more training in counterinsurgency techniques. Instead of locking in a figure for future years, what this bill does is provide us the ability to target our military aid directly to the areas that best serve America's national security interests: fighting terrorism, fighting insurgency, and keeping the people of Pakistan safe from most dire of threats.

Moreover, this bill allows us to fine-tune our approach in response to the level of will and competence displayed by Pakistan's military: When we see genuine commitment, we can help increase capabilities; and when we see that commitment lacking, we can adjust redirect our assistance rather than permit it to be squandered. We've spent some $10 billion on military aid and compensation over the past eight years, and still, militants are 60 miles from the capital and Al Qaeda enjoys a sanctuary-it's about time we start working together on a more effective approach.

This bill is not a short-term fix: it aims for the medium-term, and especially for the long term. It won't drive the Taliban out of Swat Valley next week or next month-its aim is, once the Taliban are driven from Swat, and from Bajaur, and from Dir, is to help keep them out. To put it in terms of basic counterinsurgency doctrine made familiar by Gen. David Petraeus: The Pakistani military is already able to handle the "clear" phase of the struggle-and the U.S. will assisting this mission through other vehicles-but the bill Sen. Lugar and I are introducing will provide vital help for the "hold" and the "build" parts of the mission.

Nor is this bill intended to be a silver bullet. It provides powerful tools-but these tools are only as effective as the policy- makers who wield them. I am confident that President Obama and his team will use wisely whatever policy tools are at their disposal.

We must approach this endeavor with a large dose of humility. Our leverage is limited. This bill aims to increase that leverage significantly. But we should be realistic about what we can accomplish-Americans can influence events in Pakistan, but we cannot and should not decide them. Ultimately, the true decision-makers are the people and leaders of Pakistan.

Ask a resident (not even an elderly one) of Lahore, or Karachi, or Peshawar what these places used to be like, and you'll hear reveries of a time that now seems a world away. We must help Pakistan once again become a nation of stability, security, and prosperity, enjoying peace at home and abroad- a nation, in short, that older Pakistanis remember from their childhoods.

It is this nation that most Pakistanis desperately wish to reclaim. The bill that Senator Lugar and I now introduce will help America ensure that Pakistanis have the resources necessary to choose a peaceful, stable future-and then offers them a helping hand in getting there. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.


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