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18 July 2002

U.S. Relations with South Asia Called Central to War on Terrorism

(A/S Rocca Testimony for House International Relations Committee, July
18) (4575)
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca
said that the United States' relationships with South Asian states
have been central to the successful prosecution of the war on
terrorism. Rocca was speaking before the Middle East and South Asia
Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee on July
Rocca said South Asia has become a major focal point of American
foreign policy. She pointed to transformed relationships with both
India and Pakistan, quoting Secretary of State Colin's Powell's July 9
remark that the U.S. wants to "make sure that both the Indians and the
Pakistanis understand that the United States is interested in them
beyond this crisis."
Noting that progress in South Asia has been too often overshadowed by
the specter of war between India and Pakistan, Rocca said, "The only
way forward that offers a prospect of genuinely resolving their
differences is the path of dialogue and confidence building. We are
working to help the two sides find mutually acceptable ways to begin
the de-escalation process."
On India, Rocca said the U.S. supports Indian efforts to conduct free
and fair elections in the state of Kashmir scheduled for later this
year, and that U.S. military cooperation with India is growing. She
characterized the U.S. commercial relationship with India as "growing
too slowly," but said that US-India Economic Dialogue will help
realize the potential of the economic relationship.
In Pakistan, Rocca said, "President Musharraf is setting his country
on a bold new course and has a genuine opportunity to build a
prosperous, progressive and tolerant Islamic state."
She said the U.S. is supporting Islamabad's efforts to root out
extremism and promote economic, social, and political reform. "We view
the restoration of democracy and civilian rule within a consitutional
framework as crucial to fostering long-term stability in Pakistan,"
she said.
Rocca said Afghanistan is now moving toward stability and peace,
"slowly and haltingly at times, but the direction is clear." She added
that unprecedented amounts of food aid are now entering the country
and distribution networks are improving, and noted that the U.S. is
the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghans.
Turning to other countries in South Asia, Rocca cited Bangladesh as an
example of a nation where development assistance has made a
significant impact. Rocca said the U.S. government is aiding Nepal as
it faces a violent Maoist insurgency. U.S. programs in Nepal "are
intended to facilitate the government's efforts both to restore
security and to focus on development and poverty reduction," she said.
And in Sri Lanka, Rocca said, recent progress in ending the long
ethnic conflict there is cause for "cautious optimism."
Following is the text of Assistant Secretary Rocca's prepared remarks
to the House International Relations Committee on July 18.
(begin transcript)
July 18, 2002
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee,
Thank you for inviting me to speak today about developments in South
Asia and our policy responses. Since September 11, South Asia has
often been in the headlines here, both as a principal focus of our war
on terrorism, and because of the crisis between India and Pakistan. I
will discuss both of those subjects today, but I also want to talk
about our broader policy concerns in the region, fundamental issues
that will determine our relationships with the South Asian states,
that have an impact on the war on terrorism and efforts to defuse
tensions between India and Pakistan and that have a strong effect on
our interests, some of them vital, in surrounding areas.
Many of these concerns involve India and Pakistan - two very important
countries in their own right. As Secretary Powell said during his
Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony July 9, we want to "make
sure that both the Indians and the Pakistanis understand that the
United States is interested in them beyond this crisis." We have a
strong and growing relationship with India, a transformed relationship
in the economic, scientific and security fields that has permitted a
degree of cooperation following the September 11 attacks that would
have been unthinkable even two years ago. With Pakistan as well, we
have broken free of over a decade's difficult relationship, as that
country sets a course of moderation and cooperation with the United
But we have important interests in other countries in South Asia. In
Nepal, a major rural insurgency threatens to destabilize the country.
In Sri Lanka, a long-standing civil war may be starting to move toward
resolution, but the process is likely to be long and difficult.
Chronic political rivalries and violence compound a serious law and
order problem in Bangladesh and pose a danger to the young democracy
in that country. And, of course, there is the long-term question of
Afghanistan's future. Following the encouraging success of the Loya
Jirga process, a fragile transitional government is trying to bring
stability to a country torn by almost a quarter century of war.
Mr. Chairman, our relationships with South Asian states have been
central to our successful prosecution of the war on terrorism. All
have been fully supportive, and their support in this war has been,
and will continue to be, absolutely crucial. Afghanistan is currently
the main battleground in the conflict, and without the close
cooperation of Afghans and the Afghan government, our efforts there
would be severely constrained. Pakistan continues to provide critical
backing to Operation Enduring Freedom by supporting Coalition activity
in Afghanistan and through its direct actions against al-Qaida and
Taliban operatives in Pakistan. India was one of the first countries
to offer support after September 11. Today it is supporting Coalition
naval operations, cooperating closely in counterterrorism activities
and participating in international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
Bangladesh, the third largest Muslim country in the world, has had an
important role in establishing that the war on terrorism is not a war
on Islam. We will continue to work closely with all the countries of
South Asia in tracking and defeating al Qaida terrorists and
addressing the social and political conditions that foster extremism.
Mr. Chairman, the encouraging progress in South Asia toward prosperity
and democracy is too often overshadowed by the specter of war between
India and Pakistan. We remain deeply concerned over the high levels of
tension between India and Pakistan and in particular about the
continued deployment of forces along their shared border and within
Kashmir. A surge in violence could spark a military confrontation,
with long-lasting and devastating consequences for the entire region.
The enemies of moderation in the region are aware of this fact and are
trying to exploit it through high-profile terrorist attacks, such as
that outside of Jammu this past Saturday.
As Secretary Powell has put it, war is just not an option for India
and Pakistan. The only way forward that offers a prospect of genuinely
resolving their differences is the path of dialogue and confidence
building. We are working to help the two sides find mutually
acceptable ways to begin the de-escalation process. President
Musharraf has pledged that infiltration into Kashmir from his country
will end permanently. Pakistan needs to keep that pledge in order to
begin a process of resolution of the immediate crisis and of its more
fundamental differences with India. Once tensions begin to subside,
the process should be continued by New Delhi agreeing to resume talks
with Islamabad on all issues, including Kashmir. We also are
supportive of Indian efforts to conduct free and fair elections in the
state of Kashmir scheduled for later this year, and to begin to
address Kashmiri grievances. Such elections could proceed with much
greater chance of success in an atmosphere free of violence and
intimidation and serve as a first step towards resolution of the
issue. Finally, we will continue to offer our good offices in helping
the two sides resume dialogue to resolve their differences.
In about a week, Secretary Powell will be visiting India and Pakistan
for the second time since January. The United States and others in the
international community are staying fully engaged with both countries
to reduce current tensions and to help them get on course to resolve
their differences. This week, British Foreign Secretary Straw is
making his second trip there since May. Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy
Secretary of State Armitage were there in June.
Mr. Chairman, I'd now like to turn to developments in our
relationships with the countries of South Asia, starting with India.
India is an increasingly important player in world affairs. From the
start of his Administration, President Bush has sought to effect the
transformation of the U.S. relationship with India. We are engaging
with India on a wide range of issues. From counter-terrorism, to
security issues, climate change and commerce, to strengthening
democracy and fighting HIV/AIDS, the President has looked to India as
a partner.
We are working ever more closely with India on military cooperation.
Our military forces are now actively developing the capability to work
together effectively through joint exercises, planning and senior
level visits. The Defense Planning Group, which has met twice since
December, provides the framework for military planning and
coordination. Within that framework we are discussing technological
and research and development cooperation, sales and licensing issues
and peacekeeping cooperation.
Nonproliferation remains an important item on our bilateral agenda,
which we hope to address through cooperation and mutual understanding.
We have agreed to institutionalize our bilateral dialogue on
nonproliferation and security issues as part our discussions on the
broader Strategic Framework and hope to kick off the first round in
September. One area in which there is great scope for cooperation is
on export controls. We have already had a series of expert-level
discussions and conducted training for Indian customs officials. This
cooperation should expand over time, encompassing dialogue,
information sharing, training and other assistance. We are confident
that the Indian government shares our concerns about preventing the
spread of sensitive technologies since the diffusion of Weapons of
Mass Destruction (WMD) and missiles pose a serious threat to the
security of both our countries. We are also continuing to discuss with
both India and Pakistan confidence-building measures to minimize the
risks that nuclear weapons might actually be used, and steps they can
take to bring the arms race in South Asia to the earliest possible
U.S.-India counterterrorism cooperation is rapidly maturing. It has
contributed to the arrest of many terrorists around the world. The
US-India Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism predates 9/11 and
continues to expand and deepen. It held its fifth session in
Washington July 11 and 12. Our cooperation includes intelligence
sharing, training, countering terrorism finance and money laundering,
improving border security, combating cyber-terrorism and providing
mutual legal assistance. Our joint diplomatic efforts against
terrorism have been unprecedented in our relationship. We have worked
together in the UN to build support for UNSCR 1373 and the
India-sponsored Comprehensive Convention Against International
Terrorism. The United States and India have moved in unison to
strangle the financial assets of terrorists.
On broader law enforcement issues, we also are steadily increasing the
number of our joint activities. We signed a new bilateral treaty last
October providing for mutual legal assistance and cooperation that
makes it easier for American and Indian law enforcement agencies to
assist each other in investigating international crime. Additionally,
the United States and India have a new extradition treaty containing
modern provisions.
Our two democracies are working together more intensely than ever
before to make the world freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous.
Our collaboration can only make the world a safer and more just place.
In the economic sphere, the pace of our engagement has also picked up.
Though this is one area where more can be done, our commercial
relationship with is growing too slowly and requires New Delhi to
pursue important second generation reforms. Since January, we've seen
visits by senior USG officials from the Departments of Treasury,
Energy and Commerce and from the Environmental Protection Agency.
During the same period, Ministers Sinha and Mahajan and other cabinet
rank officers of the Indian Government have been in the United States
for productive discussions with their counterparts. We look forward to
enhancing these kinds of interactions under the framework of the
US-India Economic Dialogue, which the President and Prime Minister
reinvigorated last November. With the active participation of our
respective private sectors, we are hopeful that the Economic Dialogue
can and will play an important role in helping us realize the enormous
potential of our economic relationship.
An area of great potential for Indo-U.S. relations is in trade and
commercial cooperation. India's economy has expanded rapidly since
reforms in the early 1990s. Exports to the U.S. have more than doubled
since 1995. But this commercial relationship is growing too slowly. In
order to fully exploit this economic potential, New Delhi must
continue to pursue important second-generation reforms.
In Pakistan, President Musharraf is setting his country on a bold new
course and has a genuine opportunity to build a prosperous,
progressive, and tolerant Islamic state. President Musharraf,
recognizing the danger that extremism poses to his country, has
denounced it and vowed to prevent the use of Pakistan as a base for
extremists. His government has banned all of the major extremist
groups, frozen their assets, and arrested many of their members.
Pakistan authorities are working hand in hand with U.S. agencies in
tracking and capturing remaining al Qaida elements that have fled to
Pakistan. Pakistani troops have arrested al Qaida fighters in the
Northwest Frontier Province who had fled Coalition operations in
Afghanistan. Pakistani police have made numerous arrests of al Qaida
and other extremists throughout their country. More than ten Pakistani
soldiers have died in such operations.
The extremists, showing how threatened they feel by President
Musharraf's actions, have struck back. They have killed scores of
Pakistanis and targeted westerners in Karachi and Islamabad. The
government has not been intimidated; instead it has continued its
campaign against terrorists and their supporters. On July 15, the
Pakistani court in Hyderabad sentenced Omar Saeed Sheikh to death and
the three other accomplices to life in prison for their role in the
kidnapping/murder of Daniel Pearl. We were gratified by this verdict,
an important step in bringing to justice the perpetrators of this
crime. We are standing by Pakistan as it faces the brutal challenge of
these ruthless extremists.
Our Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Law Enforcement met
for the first time in Washington in May. Pakistan Interior Minister
Moinuddin Haider and a delegation of senior officials met with
officials in the Departments of State and Justice, the FBI and INS to
develop a closer working relationship to enhance Pakistan's law
enforcement and terrorist interdiction capabilities. We will be
providing $3 million in assistance to enhance the capabilities of the
Karachi Criminal Division, which has been on the forefront of
combating terrorism in this violence-ridden city. It was here that
Danny Pearl was kidnapped, where a car bomb at the Sheraton killed 11
French soldiers, and where the U.S. Consulate was bombed on June 14.
The Joint Working Group also addressed where both sides could be more
responsive to law enforcement requests.
President Musharraf's government recognizes that extremism feeds on
economic and social dislocation. It is taking positive actions on
economic and social reform. Pakistan has completed its IMF program.
USAID has also begun implementing programs to improve basic education
in Pakistan and support Musharraf's efforts at educational reforms. We
intend to enhance these efforts in the next fiscal year. Poor quality
of schools and lack of access to educational opportunities in Pakistan
have resulted in the growth of the madrassas, some of which inculcate
intolerance and extremism in Pakistani youth. The government has put
an ambitious program into action for revamping Pakistan's education
system, which includes bringing the madrassas, or religious schools,
under control. Outside help for the country's madrassas is being
monitored and they must now submit to curriculum standards in order to
receive government support.
We are supporting Islamabad in its efforts to root out extremism and
to promote economic, social, and political reform. During President
Musharraf's visit to Washington in February, President Bush pledged to
work with Congress in providing Pakistan with debt relief for fiscal
year 2003; announced a multi-year $100 million assistance program for
education; and agreed to provide increased market access for about
$142 million in Pakistani apparel exports each year for the next three
It is in our national interest, and in the interest of all of
Pakistan's neighbors, for Pakistan to develop into a more stable,
economically sound, and better-educated society. The government has
set parliamentary elections for October. President Musharraf recently
addressed his nation about the plans of his government for political
reform. We view the restoration of democracy and civilian rule within
a constitutional framework as crucial to fostering long-term stability
in Pakistan. Toward this end, we are moving forward in providing over
$2 million in election assistance to Pakistan to help train polling
monitors, sponsor voter education and "get-out-the-vote" campaigns,
and, after the elections, to help train newly elected provincial and
national parliamentarians, particularly women.
With regard to nonproliferation issues, the U.S. and Pakistan met in
Washington last March for a round of talks on regional and global
nonproliferation issues. As with India, we have urged both sides to
take steps to prevent a costly and destabilizing arms race in the
region and to assist U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of
technologies that could assist WMD/missile programs in other regions.
The U.S. has offered assistance to help Pakistan bring its export
controls up to international standards.
Long a source of instability in the region and beyond, Afghanistan is
now moving toward stability and peace - slowly and haltingly at times,
but the direction is clear. The demise of the Taliban, the destruction
of al Qaida infrastructure, the return of former King Zahir Shah, the
emergency Loya Jirga and the establishment of a new government are the
first steps in getting this war-ravaged country back on its feet.
But all this is only a beginning. Continuing instability and violence,
such as the recent assassination of an Afghan vice president, are
constant reminders that a great deal remains to be done. We and the
rest of the international community must remain fully committed to
Afghanistan's security, political stability, and socio-economic
recovery. The International Security Assistance Force in Kabul is
helping the Afghans consolidate a lasting peace. At the same time, the
U.S. is helping to establish and train an Afghan national army and
Germany is assisting with a police force. We also need to ensure the
security of our new mission in Kabul; continue assistance for
reconstruction and recovery; and promote respect for human rights by
working with new Afghan groups who are trying to recreate a culture of
tolerance and respect for all Afghans, including women. We also are
working with the Afghans to eradicate opium poppy.
Unprecedented amounts of food aid are now entering the country and
distribution networks are improving. The international community has
committed $1.8 billion to Afghan reconstruction over the next year.
The U.S. alone committed some $300 million for reconstruction during
the donor conference in Tokyo in January. We are also the largest
donor of humanitarian assistance, with hundreds of millions of dollars
worth of food, medicine and other necessities contributed during the
past year.
Bangladesh is an example of a nation where development assistance has
made a significant impact. At its independence in 1971, Bangladesh was
one of the poorest, most densely populated countries in the world.
Since then Bangladesh has halved its birth rate and infant and child
mortality rates, and has become self-sufficient in food production. It
has also made impressive strides in women's empowerment through
education and employment.
A moderate Muslim democracy, Bangladesh last year saw its third
transfer of power through free and fair elections. Despite these
successes, Bangladesh faces serious political and economic challenges.
Deep and bitter political rivalries between the two main political
parties as well as rampant corruption continue to threaten political
stability and impede economic reform and growth.. The current
government, elected in October 2001 on a law and order platform, has
been slow to deliver on its election promises. The opposition's recent
decision to take its place in parliament is a step in the right
direction, but the future course of democracy in Bangladesh will
depend on the major political parties committing to work together to
solve the problems facing this nation.
Nepal continues to confront a violent Maoist insurgency, now in its
sixth year, which has left nearly 4,000 dead. The Maoists have shown
themselves to be a ruthless enemy by their tactics in the field and
through terrorist attacks against both government targets and innocent
civilians. Nepal's government has a right and duty to protect its
citizens, within the framework of its constitution. Unfortunately, the
leaders of Nepal's ruling political party are locked in a power
struggle that inhibits the government's effectiveness in dealing with
the Maoists and undertaking development initiatives that can begin to
restore its authority in the countryside. The United States is
finalizing plans for assistance as part of an international response
to help the government of Nepal achieve this goal. Our programs are
intended to facilitate the government's efforts both to restore
security and to focus on development and poverty reduction.
While fighting terror, Nepal's citizens must simultaneously plan for
the future. They must continue to hold their officials accountable for
good governance, ending corruption, and finding the common ground on
which they can begin rebuilding what the Maoists have destroyed. We
can assist in that reconstruction by continuing to aid Nepal's
economic development. Peace can provide the space in which Nepal can
diversify its economy, attract foreign investment, and seek
sustainable and environmentally sound ways to tap the potential of its
natural resources. While much remains to be done, many in the
international community stand ready to assist.
Sri Lanka
Developments in Sri Lanka give us cause for some cautious - very
cautious - optimism. The Sri Lankan government and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam have agreed to a cease-fire and are preparing
for formal talks. We are watching these developments very closely and
hope that these talks will eventually bring to an end the bitter
ethnic conflict that has plagued this small country for nearly two
decades. The Norwegian government has played a key role in bringing
the two sides together, and we wish them every success in their
efforts toward peace. A negotiated political settlement to this
conflict would be the best demonstration that negotiation - not
violence - provides the most effective means for dealing with
contentious issues that divide and separate peoples throughout the
world. On July 24 the Sri Lankan Prime Minister will meet with the
President in Washington. We will use this meeting to continue to
encourage a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Chairman, it is clear that South Asia has become a major focal
point of American foreign policy. This is for reasons that go well
beyond our immediate concerns in the war on terrorism. Our engagement
with all the countries of the region will continue to grow as they
themselves continue to grow and develop. A large part of our agenda
will be to support the efforts of all of the nations of the region to
improve standards of living and strengthen democratic institutions. We
are committed to a better future for this important region.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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