Terror Money Should Be Spent on Afghanistan-Pakistan Border: Says Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Talking to a hurriedly called press conference at her office after returning from a visit to South Asia, South-East Asia and the Middle East, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said that rather than Iraq, Afghanistan is most likely the shining example of Americaâ€™s good work.
She commended Pakistan, which recently paid a price of more than 400 lives of her soldiers in the war of terror, and said that the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is where the majority of the resources on this war on terror are needed, rather than in Iraq.
She said America needs to find strategies to slowly bring soldiers out of Iraq, by working towards peace in Iraq rather than just fighting insurgency, which according to her has gone considerably down in Iraq.
She exclaimed that all the latest hostilities and fighting in Iraq is the internecine war between the Shiâ€™a and Sunnis. She said the situation is complex and that she was against the war, but emphasized that Americans should take pride in their soldiers, who are getting drained and are staying out in the danger for a much longer period of time than they had anticipated.
She said that the Sunnis and Shiâ€™a of Iraq were against each other during Saddamâ€™s time, but that dispute was clamped with the iron fist policy of dictator Saddam. Sunnis need to be assured that their rights and aspirations for a peaceful and progressive Iraq will be well taken care of rather than feeling that people of opposing views are going to take up everything. It is not the time not to debate what was right or wrong about starting the war, it is time to look for solutions to bring peace in the region and transition to bring back Americaâ€™s brave soldiers as soon as possible. She showed her audience the stripes of an American soldier who had given them to her as a gift, saying he would stay in harmâ€™s way as long as needed for the safety and security of America.
She was asked why she had called Pakistanâ€™s government cooperative, when in fact reports are now surfacing that some American diplomats are presently meeting with the Pakistani political opposition in preparation for the 2007 elections. This is seen, of course, by the people of Pakistan as a direct intervention into the Pakistani political process. She refused to comment on this, saying she was not aware of such reports.
What she knows, she said, is that President Musharraf has worked diligently in the war on terror and that he should get elected as President for another term according to the rules and regulations in Pakistan, and that she would love an independent democratic system to run in Pakistan without any outside influence.
Jackson Lee, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, had just returned from an 8 day bi-partisan congressional delegation trip that took her to places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq to visit our U.S. troops, as well as Jordon and Bahrain. â€œThe goal of this trip is to ensure a strong, independent and sovereign Iraq that can stand on its own two feet and protect its people,â€ she said.
The delegation traveled to Iraq after visiting a training center for Iraqi forces in Amman, Jordan. They also met with Gen. George Casey, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
â€œNobody admires our armed forces more than I do, and Iâ€™m so proud of the service of our military men and women. Iâ€™ve worked hard during my time in Congress to make sure that our military has the equipment, training, medical care and other support it needs to accomplish its mission, and to save and protect the lives of service members, and provide for their families,â€ said congresswoman Jackson-Lee.
Jackson Lee, Co-Chair of the Pakistani Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, also visited the countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistani Caucus was formed to strengthen the partnership between the US and Pakistan, to promote trade and investment, improve health care, and foster democracy and human rights, education and science and technology.
â€œThere are growing signs of mutual trust, admiration and respect between the governments of the United States and Pakistan as well as the people of the two countries. I firmly believe Pakistan is a strong partner in the fight against terrorism and is committed to peace,â€ she said.
She also met with President Musharraf on Tuesday and he underlined the importance of expanding bilateral trade and economic ties, saying he was satisfied with the growing cooperation between Pakistan and the US in various fields. President Musharraf also emphasized the Pakistani governmentâ€™s resolve to fight extremism and terrorism to build a moderate, economically strong and progressive Islamic state.
Today, Afghanistan is on a road to recovery; however, after decades of war, the economy is still in disrepair, and its environment is in a state of crisis. â€œAfghanistan is a strategic place in the struggle for peace. It is going through turbulent times but is one of the battlegrounds in the war on terror,â€ said the congresswoman.