April 5, 2011
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, today delivered an opening statement during the panel’s hearing “Assessing U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities and Needs Amidst Economic Challenges in South Asia.” The following are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Thank you Mr. Chairman. The heart of our security dilemma in South Asia lies in a region that covers the northwest of Pakistan and the southeast of Afghanistan. Whatever the lines on the map may indicate, this cross-border area is where the focus of our concern should lie.
"Here is where Al-Qaida has sought cover, here is where the Afghan Taliban is sustained; here is where the Pakistani Taliban is strongest; here is where the Afghan warlords make their deals. Here is where the reach of the Pakistani state is weakest; here is where the combination of cooperation and perfidy by the ISI is most stark; here is where the both the convergence and divergence between U.S., Pakistani and Afghan interests are most clear. This region is the chokepoint for much of the war materiel going into Afghanistan, both ours and theirs. This region is where violent, radical Islamism is most concentrated and secure. This region is the chief operating area for our drones because it is the area most saturated with high-value targets.
"And even though this broad scenario has been the same for years, we are always, always, making progress. Except we never seem to get anywhere. The number of attacks against our side continues to rise. The number of fighters on the other side never seems to drop. President Karzai is alleged to be a crook. President Zadari is alleged to be a crook. Pakistan is about to go broke, or collapse, or both. Afghanistan’s government continues to plumb new depths in the practice of corruption. The border is open to us and open to them. The ISI is cooperating with us and cooperating with them. The Afghan National Security Forces are always being trained and always melting away.