Washington: As top Obama administration official went to the Capitol Hill to explain to them the new Af-Pak policy, lawmakers questioned Pakistan`s role and wanted assurance from the US government that Islamabad would be honest and sincere this time.
"That country (Pakistan) remains a challenge – played a key and often contradictory role in the region. Pakistan, by assisting in the pursuit of al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban leaders, could help bring the war in Afghanistan to an end," Congressman Ike Skelton said in his remarks at the House Armed Services Committee. He is Chairman of the committee.
"Conversely, if Pakistan were to return to its old habits of supporting the Afghan Taliban, the war may be almost impossible to win. More concerning, the continued ascendancy of militant movements in the region could destabilise Pakistan, a country with nuclear weapons. This could be disastrous for all of us," he said.
Pakistan, a major recipient of the US aid as Congress recently approved a USD 7.5 billion aid package for it, is a crucial American ally in the war on terror.
"The President did not dwell on Pakistan in his speech on Tuesday, perhaps because sensitivities in that country to American influences and intentions are extremely delicate.”
"But the President and his team must justify their plan not only on the basis of how it will affect Afghanistan, but also on how it will impact our efforts to promote a much stronger alliance with Pakistan that embraces vital common objectives,” said Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Given the dubious role of Pakistan in the past, Lugar asked: "Specifically, will Pakistan work with us to eliminate the leadership of Osama bin Laden and other major al Qaeda
Senator Robert Menendez questioned if there was a Pak strategy at all.
"We have been talking about offering them a strategic relationship. They don`t seem to want a strategic relationship. They want the money, they want the equipment, but at the end of the day, they don`t want a relationship that costs them too much," he said.
"And it seems to me the more we build up our troops in Afghanistan, the more reliant we become on the Pakistanis in a variety of ways.”
"So I just don`t get the sense, at this point in time, of a comprehensive policy that says that I should vote for billions of dollars more to send our sons and daughters in harm`s way in a way that we will ultimately succeed in our national security goals I hope I can be convinced before that vote comes. But as of right now, I`m not," Menendez said.