- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

PAKISTAN’S LEAD

The Pakistani ambassador told the United States to stand aside and let his country fight Taliban terrorists who infiltrated from neighboring Afghanistan. However, he added, Pakistan still needs U.S. backup.

“We will fight the Taliban and defeat them, and we will do that with American support,” Ambassador Husain Haqqani said this week during a visit to Little Rock, Ark.

Pakistan has been publicly upset over attacks inside its borders from remote-controlled, unmanned U.S. planes, that have successfully targeted dozens of suspected Taliban fighters in the northern part of the country. Some reports claim that Pakistani officials secretly endorsed the attacks by the drones, based in Afghanistan.

Mr. Haqqani, in his talk at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service, declined to answer a question from the audience about whether Pakistan privately approves of the attacks.

The ambassador noted the success of the Pakistani army’ spring offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

“We hope that the Americans will understand that the lead role in our country should belong to us for the simple reason that we know the region better and we have decided that we will fight the war for our sake,” he said.

Mr. Haqqani praised Congress for considering a bill to provide $1.5 billion annually for five years to help Pakistan improve education and health care and build or repaid highways, bridges and other infrastructure. He also called for more U.S. private investment as a way to combat unemployment that sometimes leads Pakistanis to support terrorists.

“It will be easier for Americans to invest so that the young people there end up making boxer shorts for Wal-Mart rather than making improvised explosive devices for the Taliban,” he said.

PRAISING INDIA

Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar met more than two dozen senators in her first visit to the Capitol this week, when the lawmakers praised India as a strategic partner of the United States.

A reception hosted by the Senate India Caucus drew a high-level response, which underscored the value of the relationship. The senators who greeted Mrs. Shankar, who arrived in Washington in May, included Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

“India and the U.S. have undertaken a truly remarkable journey and got into territories neither had imagined possible a few years ago,” Mrs. Shankar said

She noted that India last year bought $3.5 billion in U.S. defense equipment. Congress last year also approved a landmark deal that will allow India to purchase civilian nuclear technology.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican co-chairman of the caucus, called India the “anchor of stability in Asia.”

“Our countries are natural allies and partners, even though many may not realize this,” he added. “We also share common concerns about terrorism, extremism and the ideology of hatred that has killed our countrymen and women.”

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the Democratic co-chairman of the caucus, added, “Participation and cooperation between India and the United States will not solve every problem, but we can make a significant difference in these together.”

Mr. Cornyn founded the caucus five years ago with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was a Democratic senator from New York at the time.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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