Sen. Kirk Calls for Shift in U.S. Terror Policy: “Tilt Toward India”
By Ellen Cannon
Appearing on MSNB’s “Morning Joe” television show, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) continued his call for ending Pakistan’s role as “terror incorporated.” As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as having recently returned from his third two week assignment in Afghanistan with the Naval Reserve Intelligence Commander, Senator Kirk has named Pakistan’s Secret Intelligence Service (ISI) as directly supporting terrorist groups and undermining U.S. interests as well the war against terrorism. This morning he went one step furthering proposing a U.S. shift in foreign policy toward India and away from Pakistan, and curtailing the funding to Pakistan in our future plans in the Af-Pac region.
Senator Kirk is not alone in his highly critical assessment of Pakistan’s continued effort to work against U.S. interests through its ISI and the ISI’s support of the newest terrorist group in the region, the Haqqani network. Joining Senator Kirk in this serious verbal drama against Pakistan, is Admiral Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, Director of the CIA, General Petraeus, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. (see Ellen Cannon, knotmove.com, “Senator Kirk, General Petraeus, Clapper: Terrorism Remains A Major Threat, 9/14/11)
Last week at a Congressional hearing, Admiral Mullen described the Haqqani group as a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence spy agency. Admiral Mullen accused the ISI of fighting a “proxy war” in Afghanistan through the Haqqani group. Admiral Mullen did not couch his words, intensions, or minimize his shift away from using personal diplomacy with Pakistani officials to making official declarations against Pakistan at the Senate hearings. He stated, “By exporting violence, Pakistan has eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic well-being.” (See Ellen Cannon,knotmove.com, “Sen. Kirk and Admiral Mullen Agree on Terror Threat of Haqqani, 9/24/11)
Speaking on “Morning Joe” for more than fifteen minutes, Senator Kirk stated that as a member of Senate Armed Sevices Committee he advocates cutting U.S. funding to Pakistan as well as making it conditional to their halting Haqqani terrorist attacks against U.S.forces and interests. He noted that the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to cut aid to Pakistan from $3billion to $1 billion as a result of Pakistan’s role in supporting terrorist planning and execution of the Mumbai massacre, the harboring of Bin Laden less than one mile from Pakistan’s national military academy; the September 10th bombing and a more audacious guerilla assault on the Kabul US Embassy, NATO headquarters and other buildings that killed 20 people and lasted more than 20 hours; for the likely role Pakistan played in the truck bomb assault of the U.S. base in Wardak, seriously wounding 77 soldiers; and last week’s assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbiani, who was leading a government effort to broker peace with the Taliban.
Senator Kirk underscored that as if this growing list were not enough to question the role of Pakistan’s government exacerbating the war on terror, tensions further increased today when the CIA office in Kabul was attacked, killing one American and wounding another. Early reports of the incident by the Huffington Post suggest that an Afghan employed by the U.S. government committed the act before being killed. The Afghan employee was not authorized to carry a weapon and it remains unclear as to how he secured the gun or got on the compound. This is not the first time a CIA facility has been attacked. “In December 2009, an Al Qaeda agent blew himself up at a CIA base in eastern Khost province killing seven CIA employees. The attacker, a Jordanian man named Human al-Balawi, had been brought into the base because he had claimed to be able to reach high level al Qaeda leaders.” (Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez, 9/26/11)
Detailing the continued role of the Pakistan government through the actions of the ISI and its support of Haqqani, Senator Kirk stated, “While our military reduced Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to a shadow of its former shadow, a new force is emerging. The Haqqani network is the “new face of terror”. (“Morning Joe, 9/26/11) Senator Kirk has been addressing his foreign policy concerns in the press as well as in his recent at a speech this weekend to a large group in Schaumberg, Illinois. He noted, “The Haqqani network kills Americans, attacks the elected officials of Afghanistan and remains protected in its Pakistani headquarters in Miriam Shah. Without Pakistani safe haven, Haqqani would suffer the same fate as Al Qaeda. Afghan and U.S. Special Operation teams take out many Taliban commanders and operators each night but numerous key Haqqani leaders spend all day planning attacks on Americans in Afghanistan – then sleep soundly in their beds in Pakistan.”
Interacting with other panelists on “Morning Joe” including host John Scarborough, Steve Ratner and John Meacham, Senator Kirk called for cuts in our financial support of Pakistan which has been recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee. He strongly urged that future funding of Pakistan be conditionally linked to ending its support of Haqqani as well as ending its activities that undermine U.S. interests. As of now, the U.S. has given Pakistan more than $10.5 billion in funding.
In addition, Senator Kirk called for a shift in American diplomacy and strategic thinking toward India, the arch enemy of Pakistan. “We need to face the present reality”, said Kirk. Should Pakistan not change its way, Senator Kirk advocated we can have an American tilt towards India to encourage the largest democracy to bankroll an Afghan government that fights terror and the ISI. A tilt towards India could also allow us to reduce our forces in Afghanistan knowing that India will help bankroll the Afghan government.
Senator Kirk, the freshman Republican senator from Illinois, has made a strong addition to Senate foreign policy expertise since his arrival. As a freshman Senator he provides important detailed understanding to U.S. policy regarding international piracy; the activities of terror groups Al Shabaab, Lakshor-e-Tyebba, Hezbollah, and Hamas; Af-Pac; and international and domestic terror threats.