Tag Archives: Sen. McCain

84-335: Congress Votes Against Repeating Past Mistakes

US Congress

Last night, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-Calif) amendment to cut funding for Pakistan was soundly defeated 84-335. As with Rohrabacher’s bill supporting the balkanization of Pakistan, though, it was unlikely that this proposal would go anywhere to begin with.

After Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan last year, House members contemplated a number of measures that would have cut aid to Pakistan. Two amendments proposing to cut aid to Pakistan were defeated, however, as lawmakers decided that cutting aid would be in neither country’s interests.

Still, Pakistan and its representatives in the US did not take it for granted that Rohrabacher’s amendment would meet the same fate. Pakistan’s Ambassador, Sherry Rehman, was seen working the Hill late Thursday, explaining Pakistan’s position to Members of Congress. After 8pm, the Pakistani Ambassador Tweeted that she had been working the Hill until the vote was assured.

Writing for the blog “emptywheel”, Jim White makes an astute observation:

“…the Pakistani government is not a monolith that always acts with all of its participants working together for the same outcome. Rather than supporting those within Pakistan who will advance US interests, Rohrabacher wants to punish all of Pakistan because of those who work against US interests.

Using aid as part of a “carrots and sticks” approach to Pakistan has failed in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. It’s a strategy that fails because it feeds anti-American narratives at the expense of moderate, democratic forces in civil society. US lawmakers recognize this, as was demonstrated by Sen. McCain’s acknowledgement earlier this week that “one of the gravest mistakes in recent history was the so-called Pressler Amendment” which cut off aid to Pakistan in the 1990s, resulting in the “trust deficit” that continues to plague US-Pakistan relations.

Officials from both countries will travel to Chicago this weekend to continue critical discussions around bilateral cooperation on issues of national security. The defeat of Rep. Rohrabacher’s amendment ensures that these discussions will not be burdened by the repetition of past mistakes.

Sen. McCain discusses US-Pakistan relations at CSIS

Q: Thank you, Senator McCain. I’m a former World Bank official and former senator from Pakistan. I — Pakistan is a key ally to United States and, in fact, only non-NATO ally. Next week is Chicago Summit. What do you see the role of Pakistan? Thank you.

SEN. MCCAIN: Pakistan is vital to United States national security interests for a broad variety of reasons, including the nuclear inventory that Pakistan has, including the fact that Pakistan’s role in the region is vital, not to mention relations with India.

But we have to operate in our relations with Pakistan with the realization that the ISI has close relations with the Haqqani network, and they are carrying out activities that kill Americans. Now, that’s just an assessment that cannot be refuted by the facts, and it saddens me.

We were talking earlier, just before this — (inaudible) — one of the gravest mistakes in recent history was the so-called Pressler Amendment, which basically cut off our military-to military relations, and we are paying, still paying a very heavy price for.

I think there are some who would argue that Pakistan is a failed state. I don’t argue that, but I do — could argue plausibly that the politics in Pakistan are very, very unsettled, to say the least.

And it is in our interest to have good relations with Pakistan. It is in our interest to aid Pakistan and try to assist them to a better democracy and a lessening of corruption and a severing of relations between the ISI and the Haqqani network. But we cannot force it. If there is any lesson we should have to learn over and over again, we can’t force the Pakistani government and people to change their ways unless they want to.

And it’s so disheartening sometimes to see the lack of progress towards a meaningful democracy and rule of law and all the things that we would hope that the Pakistanis might achieve. But whether we are successful in persuading them or not, Pakistan will remain a country that is vital to United States national security interests. I don’t have to draw for you the various scenarios of a breakdown in their government.

Statement of Senators McCain, Lieberman, Kirk on Husain Haqqani’s Mistreatment in Pakistan

United States Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today released the following statement in response to reports of ongoing harassment and mistreatment of Pakistan’s former Ambassador the United States Husain Haqqani.

“Husain Haqqani served Pakistan honorably as its ambassador to the United States. While we did not always agree with Ambassador Haqqani, and our exchange of views could be spirited at times, we always had the highest respect for him and knew he was serving his nation and government with patriotism and distinction. We regret that the Pakistani people have lost a tough-minded, eloquent, and principled advocate for their nation’s interests now that Ambassador Haqqani has departed Washington.

“We are increasingly troubled by Ambassador Haqqani’s treatment since he returned home to Pakistan, including the travel ban imposed on him. Like many in Washington, we are closely following Ambassador Haqqani’s case. We urge Pakistani authorities to resolve this matter swiftly and consistent with civilian rule of law and to prevent the judicial commission investigating Ambassador Haqqani from becoming a political tool for revenge against an honorable man. The Pakistani people can be proud of the service that Ambassador Haqqani has provided Pakistan, and we look forward to the day when he can once again serve the government and people of Pakistan as one of the nation’s finest leaders.”

Helicopters for Pakistan

Apache Helicopters

On Monday I wrote that the answer to whether or not the US can trust Pakistan can be found in the answer to a related question: Can Pakistan trust the US? Like an iterated prisoner’s dilemma, each side is searching for an equilibrium of cooperation despite a past of defections. The Tuesday New York Times article speculating that the US wants to expand raids over the Pakistani border didn’t help matters, instead seeming to confirm Pakistani fears of American duplicity. While the US immediately rejected the Times report, the US needs to give more than verbal assurances to our Pakistani allies. We need to give helicopters.

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