A Rare Day for Pakistan at Capitol Hill
By Anwar Iqbal

 


Left to right: Ted Poe, Bill Pascrell, Sheila Jackson, Major R. Owens, Nick Rahall, Dale A. Kidlee and Danny K. Davis

Washington, DC: It was a rare day for Pakistan on Capitol Hill, with one US legislator after another hailing the country as a ‘champion ally’ and some even urging the Bush administration to offer Islamabad a similar nuclear deal that it offered to India.
“Pakistan has always been an ally … and good to the US. I can’t say the US has always been good to Pakistan,” said Congressman Ted Poe, a Texas Republican.
On Thursday, Pakistani American Congress, a non-partisan and non-profit group, brought together dozens of Pakistani physicians, teachers, computer engineers, lawyers, congressional aides and other prominent citizens to lobby for Pakistan on the Hill. In the evening more than a dozen US lawmakers spoke at the concluding session of PAC’s 14th annual conference.
At least two legislators, Congressman Bill Pascrell and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, also underscored the need to support democratic reforms in Pakistan. “There are no good dictators or bad dictators. The US government should not support any dictator at all,” said Rep. Pascrell.
Congressman Major R. Owens, a Brooklyn Democrat, spoke on the Indo-US nuclear deal. “I don’t understand if we can offer a nuclear deal to India, why can’t we offer a similar deal to Pakistan as well,” he said. “Pakistan is one of our favourite nations.”
Rep. Pascrell, a ranking Democrat at the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, questioned the dichotomy of the Bush administration’s approach to the nuclear issue. “You either support non-proliferation or you do not,” he said. He said he did not understand the administration’s decision to deny a deal to Pakistan that it offered to India.
Congressman Dale E. Kildee, a Michigan Democrat and a graduate of the Islamia College, Peshawar, said that living in Pakistan as a young man, he “learned that real Islam is: surrendering to God’s will in a way … which brings peace and stability to your life.”
Congressman Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, said the US and Pakistan shared common goals that go beyond the war on terror and he saw “no reason why this relationship should diminish once the war is over.”
Congressman Danny K. Davis, a Chicago Democrat, said the Pakistani community in the US was growing both in number and influence and would soon be in a position to influence the process of decision making in this country.
Congressman John T. Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, also emphasized this point saying that his communications director, Nayyra Haq, was a Pakistani. (Courtesy Dawn)

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