tv [untitled] December 17, 2015 4:00am-4:36am EST
the physician that helped us get osama bin laden. for us to ignore that they were harboring him in one of their safest and most military towns and then say we should ignore the fact that they have that doctor in prison, it begs the question of whether the aid we give them is warranted. i yield back. >> thank you. i'm going to return to the points that i made in my opening statement. i was absent for a while. we had three bills debated on the house floor that our committee put out, including the legislation authored by myself and elliott engel on targeting hezbollah, with several other co-sponsors like mr. sherman that we'll be voting on this afternoon.
but if i could return to some of the points i made, i observed with the observation about the schools in pakistan. there are 600 of these specifically that i'm concerned with that over the years we have tried to convince the government to shutter, to shut them down. they're funded primarily by the gulf states, by individuals, by families in the gulf states, who make these charitable contributions, as they're called, but the problem is that the graduates out of these schools basically have a foundation in radical ideology. so we have the national action plan that has been set up by the government. i asked the congressional research service about that particular plan, and they say nearly one year later, there remains limited evidence that the government's national action plan has brought major policy changes. so i wanted to ask you about that, ask you, ambassador, about your dialogue with the government, about shutting these down so that we shut down the
foundation from which this radicalization is occurring. many of those young people that come out of that experience will go on to become clerics, either in pakistan or elsewhere, and they will continue to expand on this radical jihadist ideology that comes out of the gulf states and is being taught. >> mr. chairman, let me say that we share your concern about the madrases. we think it's a serious issue. we thought it was significant that it was for the first time addressed as an issue nationally in the national action plan that was put out last year. our understanding is that the government is in the process of putting together greater -- a greater regulatory framework for the madrases.
it is presently mapping -- >> but this isn't rocket science. we're not talking about all madrases. we're talking about the diobindi schools. as the "dawn" editorial, the newspaper "dawn" said, there is little doubt that there still exists across pakistan religious centers that continue to spew hate, and unless that infrastructure of hate is shut down, pakistan will never win its struggle for internal peace. that's the issue. we have the list of the 600 schools. i've made three trips, as i've indicated, to try to convince the government to shut those down. we've had little success in convincing families in the gulf states not to send their money there or convincing those
governments in the gulf states not to fund this. it's a phenomenon that frankly, it's so frustrating, because what we see is the failure of the government, time and time again, to address issues that are in that government's own best interests. and this to me, given the knowledge about what goes on in those 600 schools, is the most obvious and vexing problems that is right in front of us. what do people in the government say about that issue? >> well, i have had some discussions about this, mr. chairman. and i agree that there is a huge challenge with the madrases. the reason, in a way, that they exist and have become popular in pakistan, if that's the word, is because they do provide a free education. and this has to do with the fact --
>> we're talking past each other. i'm not talking about all the madrases. >> right. >> that provide a free education. i'm talking about the 600 that you and i know are in this particular line of ideological radicalization. and on that issue, clearly, given the amount of money that is spent towards education in the budget, which is about 2.4% that actually goes towards education, i understand. i mean, this is one of the debates here in terms of f-16s and other military hardware, is wouldn't pakistan be better served addressing this issue of should go to the down these 600 schools, and if they do it, you know, funding public education there for individuals, for families, as an alternative for their sons to go to those schools in this case, instead of the lads going to schools where you and i suspect the final
outcome is going to be like a lot of others that were radicalized in those diobindi schools. >> i would agree with that analysis, mr. chairman. we think that what has to be done is there has to be further reform of the public education system. the public education system is not delivering in pakistan. and it has to be a viable alternative for parents who otherwise have no choice but to send their children to schools that are free and indeed where not only are they free but food is provided. so there's a real draw factor in all of this. we also think that it's important that the government of pakistan, and we're working with -- in this area, in the countering violent extremism area, to try and reform the curriculum so that at least in the religiously-oriented skills, there are marketable skills,
standardized curricula, and there are attempts to address a more modern perspective. >> my time has expired. but without -- i'm going to ask unanimous consent that representative sheila jackson-lee be next in terms of asking any questions. she's not on the committee but she wanted to participate today. without objection, i will go to representative sheila jackson-lee from texas. >> it is much appreciated, along with the ranking member, thank you so very much. i chair the congressional pakistan caucus with my colleague and have done so for more than a decade. so thank you very much for your presence here. i'm going to go pointedly to a question dealing with an american doctor some years back, in 2014 dr. kamar out of chicago, i believe, who came on
a mission to serve, and of course he had a different religious background. and i'm just wondering, did we ever solve his killing, was there any response to that very tragic incident? from chicago, i believe. >> yes. congresswoman, it's a pleasure to see you again. >> thank you very much. >> i'm afraid i do not have any details on that particular case. if i can get back to you with a response, i will do so. of course we continue to have concern about the, in general, the treatment of religious minorities in pakistan. and it's a key area of our engagement. >> so let me just follow up. you just said "key area." i think it's an important issue
and i'm just wondering, how are we pursuing this whole issue of religious tolerance? >> i think that there have been some developments over time in pakistan that give us a little bit of space. we're trying to advance this. one of them was certainly the decision by the supreme court under justice jalani in june of 2014 to extend greater protection to religious minorities. we, you know, think that that's a positive step that needs to be followed up on with the government. we have an ongoing dialogue about the rights of religious minorities. and we have, as a particular concern about blasphemy laws, not just in pakistan but everywhere in the world, because of the possibility of their being subject to abuse. and that has been the case in
certain instances in pakistan. we think it's within the context of having, you know, concerns about the framework, the legal framework in which pakistan conducts antiblasphemy laws. we think it is positive that the case of asiabibi has moved to the supreme court. and we will continue to press the government of pakistan for proper treatment of religious minorities. >> let me thank you. and first of all, let me say it's very good to see you, and thank you for your service both in afghanistan and pakistan. i'm probably going to focus on pakistan, and then maybe a slight question within the time frame that i have left. i know that you've answered the question about dr. afridi and his status. the president sharif was here, i questioned him. it seemed as if he was trying to suggest there are other issues.
do you have any update, you may have given it already in other testimony. let me get that quickly. let me follow up with my other question, which is, when the prime minister was here, there was certainly an impression given, pakistan, that he was attempting to continue to build on democratic principles, focus on economic development, education, issues that we would be concerned about. and certainly existence, if you will, with india. so i'm wondering what your assessment is. if you would start with the status of the doctor, and then lastly, if you could give me just a little bit about afghanistan. i'm concerned in terms of whether or not the frontier land or the areas are even embraced by the central government, whether or not we actually have
a functioning, tranquil, growing government in afghanistan. >> thank you, congresswoman. with regard to dr. afridi, we do believe there is no reason for his continued detention. we've been assured by the pakistanis that he is in good health. but we continue to press his case, absolutely, at the highest levels of our government and seek his release. >> and you see no other accounts or charges? it's been represented to me there are some other charges. you see no reason for him to continue to be incarcerated? >> well, we just believe inherently that he should not be in a position of detention for helping out in the capture, the osama bin laden raid. so that has been our position from the outset.
>> and you continue, at the united nations level and other levels, to try to secure his release? >> yes. we continue to work every avenue that's open to us and continue to press hard on it, yes, ma'am. >> thank you. and the other questions. >> with regard to afghanistan, the government actually does face some challenges. it's not surprising. but on the other hand, the government of national unity has held together for over a year. the government of national unity, any government of national unity, coalition government anywhere, there are challenges associated with it. when i was in kabul last week, i got a sense of renewed determination from the government to improve its governance, particularly after the security challenges that it has faced over the last year. it has drawn lessons learned from the experiences of the past year and is making more
government appointments. and there is a particular provincial focus to the government's reform efforts right now. >> if the chairman would be kind enough, if you could just under prime minister sharif who came to the united states, do you see the country moving toward more democratic principles, economic development? you're in and out of the country. do we have a line or a measuring stick that moves pakistan with all of its population, all of its desire for education, to a level where you're empowering the many young people that are there in the country? >> yes. congresswoman, thank you. there was an important transition in pakistan, as you know, in june of 2013, when the first civilian elected
government took over from a civilian elected government. the first successful civilian transition in pakistan's 65-year history at that point. and i think that after facing some domestic political challenges, the government of prime minister nawaz sharif has i think largely settled those political issues. and i think the political situation is stable. and the government has indeed focused on several key areas, stabilizing the economy. pakistan was seniors the coffers were quite empty at the time nawaz's government took over, and there was the potential at that point of a balance of payments crisis. pakistan is now on an imf program. it's been through eight tranches. that's longer than any previous
imf program in history. there are still some important structural reforms that need to be taken especially in the energy sector. on the other hand, they have moved to diversify their energy supply. they are importing liquefied natural gas with a company from houston helping out in that process, which we are very happy to try to promote successfully. and they have also focused on infrastructure. the prime minister has also committed to increasing the proportion of spending on education. and in that regard i think it's worth noting that the prime minutes's daughter signed on with the first lady's initiative during the prime minister's visit. in that regard pakistan has expressed its seriousness about addressing issues of education,
particularly for adolescent girls. and we encourage them to continue to spend -- to increase their funding on education. >> thank you for your service, and thank you very much, mr. chairman and ranking member, for your courtesies. i yield back. >> thank you. we now go to mr. elliott engel of new york. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and ambassador olson, it's good to see you. we had a good meeting yesterday in my office. i was just debating a bill on the house floor and also the new york delegation, so i apologizing for missing the first part of the hearing. we discussed many of the issues, and i'm delighted with your appointment. this week -- what i'm going to do is make a statement and then ask you to comment on it. this week we marked five years since the passing of ambassador
holbrook, who was our first special representative for afghanistan and pakistan. and we still feel his loss. he left a remarkable legacy. and his final effort was laying the ground work for resolving the long conflict in afghanistan and pakistan. and i hope we're able to take advantage of that work. as he mentioned before, ambassador olson, i'm confident with your previous experience in both afghanistan and pakistan, this important task is in the right hands. when president obama took office, i was encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to support our military forces, diplomats, and development workers in afghanistan, and to renew our partnership with the civilian leadership of pakistan. this focus on pakistan was reflected in the kerry-lugar-berman passed by congress in 2009. but that authorization recently expired. and now is a good time to take stock of the status of the u.s.-pakistan relationship. we're used to hearing some bad news about pakistan. but the pakistani people have
achieved some noteworthy accomplishments in recent years. pakistan has seen its first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another. i think this was an historic moment for the country. thanks to collaboration with our own usaid, today pakistan has added 1750 megawatts of electricity to its energy grid, nearly a thousand new or refurbished schools, and newly trained teachers. let me commend our development experts for their hard work in a very challenging environment. on the security side, we've seen much more modest progress. terrorist groups based in pakistan continue to suppose serious threat to americans, pakistanis, and our partners throughout the asian world. also there is a permissive environment that allows extremist ideology to spread. the results, terrorist attacks in afghanistan, pakistan, and india, and here in the united states. the hardest hit has been the
pakistani people. terrorism inside pakistan has killed more than 50,000 people since 2003. that's 50,000 people. a year ago today, terrorists affiliated with the pakistani taliban, also known as ttp, massacred more than 140 teachers and students at the army public school in peshawar. absolutely horrific. after years of prodding and far too many lives lost, the pakistani government final took action against ttp. i had high hopes for those efforts. i was also hopeful and pakistan's parliament took a leading role in establishing a national action plan to comprehensively attack terrorism. pakistan's government decided it would no longer differentiate between good and bad terrorists. that suggested a real change in pakistan's approach, a positive change to addressing terrorism
in the country. but yet again, we've seen little evidence that the government of pakistan has followed through on these commitments. and so some violent groups continue to operate in pakistan with impunity, including the hakani network, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of americans in afghanistan, and l.e.t., the group responsible for the 2008 mumbai attacks which also cost american lives. there are some in pakistan who believe they can manage these groups, yet l.e.t. terrorists end up fighting our troops in afghanistan and hakani network terrorists have pledged allegiance to al qaeda. it's clear pakistan is a long way from solving these problems. i hope we can focus on a few key areas. first of all, what is it going to take for pakistan to stop differentiating between good and bad terrorists and start treating all terrorists as bad and all terrorists as the threat that they are? does our own policy effectively convey to pakistan that the harm
from these relationships outweigh any perceived benefit? next, i'm curious about how pakistani acquiescence in or support for terrorist groups is affecting its neighbors. can afghanistan stabilize while pakistan continues to host groups at the hakani network? can pakistan and india have a normal relationship when pakistan continues to support l.e.t.? and lastly, i'm concerned about the messages we're sending when we continue to provide pakistan security assistance despite the fact pakistan's ongoing relationships with the hakani network and l.e.t. we need to be clear about pakistan's counterterrorism efforts. now, i believe in the u.s.-pakistan alliance. i believe that the united states and pakistan should be allies and continue to work together. but i think the question about terrorism is a very important question.
and it really has not been satisfactorily, in my opinion, met by the pakistani government. i hope we can see a strategy for pakistan from usaid so we can maximize the remaining foreign assistance to both countries. in my view we need to include incentives and encourage pakistan to make much needed energy sector and tax reforms. we all want to see a peaceful, stable, and prosperous pakistan that is an integrated part of a larger, more connected, central and south asia. this simply cannot happen with the continued instability that exists in pakistan and afghanistan. so i'm wondering, ambassador, if you could answer some of these questions i made, if you've already done it then we can do it in writing afterwards, but if you can answer it, i would be grateful. thank you. and i wish you good luck. as i said before, i think you're the right man for the job. >> well, thank you, thank you very much, ranking member engel. that means a great deal to me, that i enjoy your confidence.
and thank you for your support. you started by mentioning it's five years since the death of richard holbrook. i was actually in his outer office waiting to see him on the day that he collapsed. and i think all of us who are working on this account greatly miss him to this day. i'm well aware that i'm filling very big shoes. and thank you for your very comprehensive and balanced statement. let me say that with regard to particularly the issue of terrorism, we appreciate that the statements that pakistan has made at the level of the prime minister and the army chief of not differentiating between good and bad terrorists, we think there is still work to be done in this area. we think that pakistan has moved decisively against terrorists that threaten pakistan internally but still needs to devote attention to those that represent a threat to their neighbors. you asked about particularly the effect on afghanistan.
i would just note that we had a very constructive week last week with the heart of asia conference which president ghani attended, in which pakistan committed to uphold the legitimacy and sovereignty of the afghan government and its constitution, which was important for the afghan side. and they committed to renewing and reinvigorating a peace process. pakistan did host talks at murray between the taliban and the afghan government, the first such talks, last summer in july. i think we are all agreed that it is important to get a political settlement process going with a sense of urgency. and we look to pakistan to help to bring the taliban to the table.
at the same time, we continue to raise our concerns about the threat that specifically the hakani network represent to us and our forces and our embassy and civilians in afghanistan, as well as the taliban more generally. and finally, we certainly have the same view with regard to l.e.t. and the need to not just ban l.e.t. but to take action with regard to prosecuting the perpetrators of mumbai. >> thank you. i look forward to continuing to work with you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> and i believe mr. higgins had an additional question or two. >> yes, thank you, mr. chairman. you know, i just keep going back
to the double game that's being played by pakistan. and, you know, you had said that pakistan expressed a seriousness in addressing the education needs of its country. pakistan spends 3% of its budget on education. 3%. it spends 3% of its budget on infrastructure. according to the world economic forum, countries that spend less than 15% on education, healthcare, and infrastructure, are countries that are very susceptible to collapse. so when pakistan says or expresses a seriousness in addressing its educational needs, one only needs to look at the amount of budgetary resource
it's addressing for that need. additionally, pakistan i think inflates the amount it spends on counterterrorism operations so it can receive more money, particularly from us. and as has been stated here throughout this hearing, some $30 billion over the past 15 years has been spent, both military and economic development aid for pakistan, according to u.s. military officials, the legitimate costs are only about 30%. so my question is, where is the rest of that money going? and it's very, very significant. and i suspect for nefarious purposes. you know, and are we winning the hearts and minds of pakistanis, given the extraordinary aid that we've provided? well, i would refer you to the pew research center, which says that the majority of pakistanis view the united states as the enemy. the majority say that u.s. or impact at all.
and pakistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. so i think by any measure, when you look at the extraordinary aid that we have provided, at the very least, we have not used that aid package as a basis from which to force very, very reasonable reforms. with respect to helping in the pakistanis help their own people, because if you're not making a commitment to education. if you're not making a commitment to health care. if you're not building the roads and bridges of your community, why are we? you know, we spend 70, $87 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of afghanistan, spend $73 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of iraq. roads and bridges they blow up to kill our people. so, you know, i think if anything, you know, we look at
this exercise today, this hearing as underscoring, i think, the urgency better utilizing the leverage that we have with pakistan, so to ensure that not only that money is more wisely spent, but we, you know, the benefactors of, of huge amounts of foreign aid to pakistan aren't viewed by the vast majority of the pakistani people as the enemy. and the money that we give them as inaaffeffective. >> we agree to be investing more
ini its health and people. and we support prime minister nawauz's stated commitment to devoting 4% to education, 4% of joe didn't. a -- gdp. and it does have to happen. pakistan does face a huge number of challenges right now, huge security challenges. and we could have a very long discussion about how that happened, and i think, you know, there are, there are domestic, there's certainly large domestic factors at play. and i think pakistan is attempting to turn this security situation around. but that does consume, i think, a significant amount of their budget in doing so. on the question of hearts and minds.
and views of americans, it's not, it's not a, it's not a happy story. and i agree with you. on the other hand, it is something that is somewhat improving. the numbers have gradually improved. on pakistan's perception, pakistani's perceptions of americans. i can tell you from personal experience that i think there's less of an impression now amongst the political elite that the united states is playing some kind of nefarious role with regards to pakistani politics. we are seen as not intervening in pakistani politics, and that's because we haven't. we've been very careful not to do that. so i think that this is something that's not going to change overnight. but the trends are all be it
mode. they' they a -- modest. they're in a positive direction, and i think we need to keep working at that. >> well, ambassador, i'm going to yield time to mr. bradsher n brad cherman from california. >> winning over the people of pakistan is one of the most important things we can do. voice of america spends a lot of money around the world. i hope that you would be an advocate for making sure that we have a robust program, not just in verdu, but in the other languages. please do not be fooled by thinking some people have a working knowledge of verdu. you're in the marketing business. people in my town spend billions
of dollars marketing to people in spanish to people who prefer to listen in spanish. they don't say, well, we're going to test those people and see what is their working knowledge. you reach people in the language they want to listen in. and the fact that we're talking about $2 billion a year and we're not spending $1 million a year to reach people in the sin di language, i'm counting on you. i want to second many of the, just about everything mr. higgins said. i was an advocate in my first five minutes or devil's advocate for zero base in pakistan, that's obviously not what we're going to do. i hope you will assure the pakistanis that if there was ever a vote on the floor of the house that says that not one penny could be spent before the
doctor and his family were safe here, we would be stampeding to say yes, and that would be a danger to some of our colleagues. as to -- yes, there would be a stampede. those voting first would be stampeded by those trying to be first. focusing on that aid, obviously, schools are important, usid dedicated more than $155 million to building and improving schools in sind. in a 2014 inspeck tor general report, the program found that it was not realizing goals that no schools had been built, that there was little improvement in early grade reading. that was the report in 2014. has anything been done to make sure that education aid is more effectively spent? and if you don't have that information, you can respond for the record.