Comments of Senator Patrick Leahy on Developments in Pakistan

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chairs the Senate's Subcommittee On State And Foreign Operations - the Appropriations Committee panel which...


WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chairs the Senate's Subcommittee On State And Foreign Operations - the Appropriations Committee panel which handles funding for U.S. assistance to Pakistan and which has budget jurisdiction over the State Department.

"General Musharraf has made a colossal blunder. He says he needs emergency laws to fight terrorism, but his crackdown targets the courts, lawyers, the press, political opponents and human rights defenders. It seems clear that his primary goal is to keep himself in power as president and as army chief.

"The Bush Administration has only paid lip service to the abuses of General Musharraf's authoritarian rule. Rather than hold him to his word that he would restore democracy, the White House has opened the spigot to a steady flow of hundreds of millions of dollars each year, even when he sacked the chief justice of the Supreme Court and orchestrated his own rubber-stamp reelection.

"The best antidote to religious fundamentalism is to support Pakistan's moderate majority. That would best serve our security interests as well as the interests of the Pakistani people. It is what we should have been doing all along, rather than propping up a general who seized power in a coup and has repeatedly broken his word about his intentions.

"The United States will continue its support to the Pakistani people. But U.S. aid to the Musharraf government should stop until constitutional order, civil liberties and judicial independence are restored, until political prisoners are released, and until free and fair elections are allowed."

SOURCE Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy