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- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks at a full Committee hearing on the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations:

“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and Ambassador Olson. It’s good to see you.  We had a good meeting yesterday in my office.  I was just debating a bill on the House floor and also a New York delegation, so I apologize for missing the first part of the hearing.  But we discussed many of the issues, and I am delighted with your appointment. 

“This week—what I’m going to do is make a statement, and then ask you to comment on it—this week we mark five years since the passing of Ambassador Holbrooke, who was our first Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.  And we still feel his loss.   He left a remarkable legacy, and his final effort was laying the groundwork for resolving the long conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  And I hope we’re able to take advantage of that work. And as I mentioned before, Ambassador Olson, I’m confident that with your previous experience in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, this important task is in the right hands. 

“When President Obama took office, I was encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to support our military forces, diplomats, and development workers in Afghanistan, and to renew our partnership with the civilian leadership of Pakistan.  This focus on Pakistan was reflected in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, passed by Congress in 2009.  But that authorization recently expired, and now is a good time to take stock of the status of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

“We’re used to hearing some bad news about Pakistan.  But the Pakistani people have achieved some noteworthy accomplishments in recent years. 

“Pakistan has seen its first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another.  I think this was a historic moment for the country.

“Thanks to collaboration with our own USAID, today Pakistan has added 1,750 megawatts of electricity to its energy grid, 30,000 new jobs, nearly a thousand new or refurbished schools, and the more than 18,000 newly trained teachers.  And let me commend our development experts for their hard work in a very challenging environment.

“On the security side, we’ve seen much more modest progress.  Terrorist groups based in Pakistan continue to pose a serious threat to Americans, Pakistanis, and our partners throughout the South Asia, and the world.  Moreover, Pakistan has provided some extremist groups safe haven and a permissive environment that allows extremist ideology to spread. 

“The results?  Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and India, in the UK, and here in the United States.  But the hardest hit have been the Pakistani people.  Terrorism inside Pakistan has killed more than 50,000 people since 2003.  That’s 50,000 people.

“A year ago today, terrorists affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban—also known as TTP—massacred more than 140 teachers and students at the army public school in Peshawar.  Absolutely horrific.

“After years of prodding and far too many lives lost, the Pakistani government finally took military action against TTP in North Waziristan.  Along with many others, I had high hopes for those efforts. 

“I was also hopeful when Pakistan’s Parliament took a leading role in establishing a National Action Plan to comprehensively address terrorism in the aftermath of the Peshawar attacks.  And Pakistan’s government decided it would no longer differentiate between good and bad terrorists.  That suggested a real change in Pakistan’s approach, a positive change to addressing terrorism in the country. 

“But yet again, we’ve seen little evidence that the government of Pakistan has followed through on these commitments.   And so some violent groups continue to operate in Pakistan with impunity—including the Haqqani network, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan; and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, also called LET, the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which also cost American lives. 

“And there are some in Pakistan who believe they can manage these groups.  Yet Lashkar terrorists end up fighting our troops in Afghanistan, and Haqqani network terrorists have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.  It’s clear that Pakistan is a long way from solving these problems.

“So Ambassador Olson, as we discuss these issues, I hope we can focus on a few key areas. 

“First of all, what is it going to take for Pakistan to stop differentiating between good and bad terrorists, and start treating all terrorists as bad and all terrorists as the threat that they are?  Does our own policy effectively convey to Pakistan that the harm from these relationships outweigh any perceived benefit?

“Next, I’m curious about how Pakistani acquiescence in or support for terrorist groups is affecting its neighbors.  Can Afghanistan stabilize while Pakistan continues to host groups like the Haqqani network?  Can Pakistan and India have a normal relationship when Pakistan continues to support LET?

“And lastly, I’m concerned about the messages we’re sending when we continue to provide Pakistan security assistance despite Pakistan’s ongoing relationships with the Haqqani Network and LET.  We need to be clear-eyed about Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts. 

“Now I believe in the US-Pakistan alliance.  I believe that the United States and Pakistan should be allies to continue to work together.  But I think the question about terrorism is a very important question.  And it really has not been satisfactorily, in my opinion, met by the Pakistani government.

“Also, I hope we can soon see a country strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan from USAID, so that we can maximize the remaining foreign assistance to both countries.  In my view, we need to include incentives and encourage Pakistan to make much needed energy-sector and tax reforms.  We all want to see a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Pakistan that is an integrated part of a larger, more connected Central and South Asia.  This simply cannot happen with the continued instability that exists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

“So I’m wondering, Ambassador, if you could answer some of these questions I made.  If you’ve already done it, than we can do it in writing afterwards.  But if you can answer it, I’d be grateful.  Thank you.  And I wish you good luck.  And I—as I said before—I think you’re the right man for the job.”