US lawmakers to debate whether Pakistan is a ‘friend or foe’

Rayburn House Office Building

PTI | Washington July 9, 2016: Tired of the alleged “double game” being played by Islamabad, American lawmakers have announced to hold a Congressional hearing next week to discuss whether Pakistan is a “friend or foe” of the US in the war on terror.

“This hearing will give members the opportunity to learn more about Pakistan’s longstanding ties to terrorist groups and allow for a more informed reassessment of US foreign policy priorities vis-à-vis Islamabad,” said Congressman Ted Poe Chairman of Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The hearing titled “Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism?” has been convened by the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The US has spent tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in aid to Pakistan since 9/11. Now, fifteen years later, Pakistan’s military and intel services are still linked to terrorist organisations and little success has been made to stabilise the region,” said Congressman Matt Salmon, chairman of the subcommittee about the alleged “double game” played by Pakistan.

“We must take a closer look at US goals, expectations and our aid spending in the region. In this hearing, we will discuss the Administration’s failed policy toward Pakistan and debate the best way forward,” Salmon said.

Among the witnesses include former US ambassador to Afghanistan and United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad. The other two witnesses are Bill Roggio, senior editor, Long War Journal and Tricia Bacon, Assistant Professor, American University.

“Pakistan’s long history of ties to terrorist groups, including those with American blood on their hands, is well documented,” Congressman Poe said.

“Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), provide support to various terrorist organisations, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Haqqani network, in a bid to exert influence over Pakistan’s regional rivals,” Poe said in a statement.

In May 2016, the leader of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike while in Pakistan, reinforcing Pakistan’s image as an unquestionable safe haven for terrorist groups, he said.

In fact, in the most recent Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department noted that Pakistan ‘did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN [the Haqqani network], he added.

“Despite the mounting evidence of Pakistan’s collusion with global terrorism, Pakistan is among the leading recipients of US foreign assistance, with Congress appropriating more than USD 33 billion to Islamabad since 2002,” Poe said.

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