Mr. Speaker, a wave of terrorist attacks have rocked the Afghan capital over the last few weeks killing over 130 people and leaving hundreds more injured. These horrific assaults in Kabul were specifically designed to demonstrate Afghanistan’s vulnerability and instability.
By attacking in the heart of the young Afghan democracy, terrorist are attempting to show the world that our efforts have failed and that they can murder with impunity. We must not accept this.
Terrorism is designed for this purpose, to terrorize, to kill with the intention of coercing people to form political opinions or decisions that they would otherwise not make if they were not living in fear. But a future with the Taliban and al-Qaeda returning to power in Afghanistan is to accept that terrorism works and that millions who now live free, must again be subjected to the oppression of Taliban rule.
We committed ourselves to the cause of defeating terrorism in Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, and we must hold to this course. However, after sixteen years of war, there has always been one fundamental flaw with our strategy.
It has assumed that Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, shared our goals. The recent attacks in Kabul present more evidence that Pakistan is not our ally in this cause.
In the investigation of the attacks, the Afghan government has determined that their source was in the safe havens of Pakistan. And why should we be surprised, when it was Pakistan’s intelligence service which created the Taliban and fostered a partnership with al- Qaeda decades ago?
For years, we have attempted to pursue terrorists living across the Afghan border in Pakistan, including operations that killed Osama bin Laden and dozens of other senior terrorist leaders. But Pakistan pretends they were never there.
It claims it has removed the safe havens but we know the Taliban leadership is still in places like Quetta and Peshawar—beyond the reach of U.S. and Afghan forces. We know that thousands are radicalized at Pakistani school and madrassas every year.
And despite its bluster about being tough on terrorism, it frequently releases the terrorists it holds. Just last month it released a renown militant leader who recruited thousands of fighters for the Taliban and in December freed the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba from house arrest.
These terrorists walk free, direct attacks, and incite generations of young Pakistanis and Afghans, all while the Pakistani government collects billions of dollars in U.S. aid. This can no longer stand if we are to ever bring the war in Afghanistan to an acceptable conclusion.
I applaud the President’s decision to suspend security assistance to Pakistan and to publicly shame it for its role in harboring terrorism. The peace and security of South Asia should not be held hostage by the reckless policies of Pakistan.
Until it can forgo its sponsorship of this extremist ideology and joins the responsible nations of the world in actively combatting groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban, we should cease our partnership with the government of Pakistan.
And that’s just the way it is.