Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Verbatim, as delivered
Opening Statement by Chairman Howard L. Berman at
hearing, “U.S. Foreign
Policy in Pakistan: Implications for Regional Security,
Stability, and Development”
Today we turn our attention to a region
that defense experts have singled out as perhaps the most likely launching
point of a future Al Qaeda terrorist strike.
The tribal regions of Pakistan
provide safe haven for thousands of militants and terrorists who seek not only
to destabilize Pakistan and
but who also plan attacks around the globe.
For this reason, I believe it’s
imperative that we review U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan to find out what
is working, what is not, and how a new Administration should approach this
With new civilian and military
leadership in Pakistan, we now have a chance to establish a sustainable and
mutually beneficial bilateral relationship; a relationship that recognizes how
unfettered extremism poses a threat to Pakistan, its neighbors, and the world;
a relationship that focuses on economic and development assistance not as an
afterthought but as the necessary foundation to promote long-term growth; and a
relationship that adheres to the values that both of our nations inherently
share – bolstering forces of moderation, holding dear the principles of
democracy, and promoting peace and prosperity throughout Pakistan.
However, recent reports of
negotiations between the Government of Pakistan and tribal leaders present a
challenge for the United
How can we balance the need to engage with certain tribal leaders but
still hold firm against negotiating with terrorists who will continue to fight U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan
regardless of any truce?
I believe we must remain steadfast
in our fight against the irreconcilable forces who wish to attack our country,
destabilize the region, and return Afghanistan to the oppressive,
hateful regime that gave safe harbor to Al Qaeda and other terrorist
elements. However, this approach will
require greater cooperation between Pakistan
and Afghanistan and a
concerted effort to show the Pakistani people that this is not just a fight for
America, but also for a
The obvious first step would be to
create a comprehensive U.S.
strategy toward Pakistan. But a report released two weeks ago by the
Government Accountability Office shows that this Administration has failed to
create any comprehensive, interagency plan to tackle the problems of this
region. Without a plan, how do we
measure our performance in meeting objectives?
Without a plan, how do we assure the American people that their taxpayer
dollars are being put to good use?
Without a plan, we make ourselves susceptible to agencies working at
cross-purposes with each other.
And we are now seeing signs of just
these dangers coming to fruition.
Yesterday the GAO released proof that the funds doled out by our
government to support the fight against extremism in the region have been
subject to little to no internal oversight.
For example, why is the U.S.
government being asked to reimburse Pakistan for air defense radar
maintenance? Al Qaeda is not known to
have an air force, and the purpose of these funds is to support the fight
against extremists -- not to boost Pakistan’s conventional warfare
capability. This calls into question not just the value this Administration has
put on these tax dollars but the effectiveness of what they are doing to keep
It’s time we learn from our
government’s mistakes and move forward.
Bringing stability and growth to Pakistan,
winning in Afghanistan, and
fulfilling vital U.S.
national security goals are all at stake.
The democratic institutions of Pakistan are our allies, and it is
only through our support for these institutions that we will ultimately serve
the Pakistani people and gain their cooperation in our mutual fight against