Thursday, March 08, 2007

Kerry, Dodd and Biden Pressure Pakistan on Al Qaeda

Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Joe Biden (D-DE) introduced a resolution yesterday aimed at sending a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban and Al Qaeda must not be allowed to establish a safe haven in that country. The resolution came as the Senate debated the 9-11 legislation and is intended to put Congress on record as making clear that military assistance to Pakistan will be assessed in the context of efforts in cracking down on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The three senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will seek to have the resolution added to the comprehensive 9-11 legislation.

“As the Senate works to implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations to make our country safer here at home, we must never forget of the importance of going after the terrorists before they can strike,” Kerry said on Wednesday. “Our top military and intelligence officials report that the resurgent Taliban is using the tribal regions of Pakistan as a base to launch attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan. It’s unacceptable that a newly regenerated Al Qaeda is again finding sanctuary to plot new attacks."

“Our goal here is to improve cooperation with Pakistan. If we see Pakistan moving in the right direction on counterterrorism, democratization, and other issues, our aid levels should reflect this improvement. But decision-makers in Pakistan should recognize that the reverse is also true," said Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The fact that the Taliban and Al Qaeda have established critical sanctuaries in Pakistan from where they continue to launch and plan attacks five years after 9/11 is simply unacceptable. It reflects the misguided priorities and policies of this administration in fighting the war on terror,” said Dodd, who is also a presidential candidate. “The Government of Pakistan has been a pivotal partner in the war on terror and Pakistan has itself endured acts of terrorism and sectarian violence. But the Government of Pakistan must do more in apprehending members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and preventing their operations on its territory. Stronger US-Pakistan relations depend on it.”