Mar 19, 2009

US lawmakers oppose drone attacks in Pakistan

A bipartisan group of 15 US congressmen warned the US administration on Wednesday that increased US military activities in Pakistan would have dangerous consequences for the entire region.
In a signed letter to President Barak Obama, the lawmakers also opposed US drone attacks in Pakistan, saying that it’s the continuation of the Bush administration’s policies towards the region.
‘We are also concerned that any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan,’ the lawmakers warned.
‘This could very well lead to dangerous destabilisation in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States,’ they wrote.
The letter followed indications from the White House that it may unveil a new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in less than two weeks. The new strategy is expected to include more economic and military aid for Pakistan, as well as efforts to beef up Afghanistan's military and try to tamp down raids by Fata-based extremists on targets in Afghanistan.
Later, at a news briefing the lawmakers urged Mr Obama to secure an exist strategy from Afghanistan before sending additional troops and warned that the United States was getting deeper and deeper into a war which seems to have no end.
‘Sending 17,000 troops over there and continuing the drone bombing of Pakistan is hardly a change in policy,’ said a former presidential contender and a Republican lawmaker, Ron Paul.
The lawmakers, who had voted for sending US troops to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, said they did so because they wanted to ensure that the Qaeda training camps in that country were destroyed.
But ‘the Bush administration decided to go far beyond what Congress had intended and set forth, for their purposes, a permanent occupation,’ said Democrat Dennis Kucinich.
Congressman Paul said Congress has the responsibility, ultimately, to write the bill that redefines the US mission in Afghanistan. The letter they sent to President Obama also urged him to ‘reconsider a military escalation’ in Afghanistan because it ‘may well be counterproductive.’
Mr Paul said the letter was ‘just urging caution because we're hoping, with the new administration, that we'll have an administration that will lend itself more to diplomacy and working through other means other than always military confrontation.’
‘A troop surge is not the answer,’ Mr Kucinich added. ‘Afghan citizens and families do not need more destruction and violence. They need homes, jobs, and education. They need security, the rule of law and opportunity.’
‘What's going on in Afghanistan … has nothing to do with the al Qaeda. It has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. This is occupation, and it's being perpetuated —it's a continuation of the Bush policy,’ said Congressman Paul.
Congressman Kucinich said that less than 10 cents of every dollar spent in Afghanistan goes to nonmilitary aid. ‘And the US aid that does receive Afghanis is shamefully sparse.’
Instead of a troop surge, the Obama administration should begin a high-level diplomatic engagement with the countries of the region to improve the current situation in Afghanistan, he said. ‘A troop surge is not the answer,’ he added.
‘I have a sinking feeling that we are getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end, a greater war where our strategy and goals are unclear,’ warned Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat.

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