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Fight terrorism or face aid cut: US senator tells Pakistan

By Lalit K. Jha, IANS,

Fords (New Jersey) : An influential American senator Sunday severely warned Pakistan to come out fair and square against terrorists or lose billions of dollars in US aid.

“I do not believe in giving foreign assistance to countries that are unwilling to fight terrorism in their own country,” Senator Robert Menendez told Indian Americans at a condolence meeting held for the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attack.

Member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is also chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, which oversees all US assistances abroad. Both India and the US have insisted that the Mumbai terror attack was planned in Pakistan and its leaders are based in Pakistan.

As such, both the countries want Pakistan to immediately take action against those who were responsible for the Mumbai attack, which is compared to the attack on the twin towers in New York in September 2001.

As many as 172 people, including several foreign nationals, were killed in Mumbai after a group of terrorists from Pakistan went on the rampage in the city Nov 26. Many of those killed were from the US.

In the post-Taliban era, Pakistan has received aid to the tune of $10 billion. Many US lawmakers, including Vice President elect-Joe Biden, have gone on record to say that this massive aid to Pakistan has been used to build up the Pakistan Army against India rather than fight terrorism within its country, particularly its tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.

Expressing solidarity with the people of India and Indian Americans in the aftermath of terror attack in Mumbai, Menendez said: “On Nov 26, all of us were Indians.”

Representing the state of New Jersey in the Senate, Democratic Menendez has long been known as a friend of India and Indian Americans.

“I want you to know that it is clear to me that we have an obligation to pursue terrorists wherever they may be and bring them to justice. And those who committed those acts in India must be brought to justice as well. I personally understand the necessity in bringing terrorists to justice,” Menendez said.

Indian and US intelligence agencies have said that the terrorist attack in Mumbai was planned and executed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit based in Pakistan.

He said: “We must see a real commitment. That commitment is as important to the United States of America that faces challenges with Al Qaeda and the Taliban along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) region, as much as it is a challenge to India, and its democracy as well.”

Observing that both the US and India have a common cause in fighting these terrorists, Menendez said the views of India and Indian Americans at this point of time coincide with America’s national interest and its national security as well.