US must declare Pakistan state sponsor of terrorism: Former Republican Senator Larry Pressler
A former top Republican Senator Larry Pressler has asked the Trump administration to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. Pressler, who was instrumental in imposing tough sanctions on Pakistan in 1990s, also welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to elevate ties with India to a new level.
Trump criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups that kill Americans in Afghanistan while announcing his new Afghan and South Asia policy. He also warned Pakistan that it has "much to lose" by harbouring terrorists.
“With the new South Asia strategy, the US has moved closer to India and the Trump administration has elevated India to a new level,” Pressler, who is known in South Asia for his famous 'Pressler Amendment', said.
Pressler advocated the amendment, enforced in 1990 when the then President George H W Bush could not certify that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear weapon.
The amendment banned most US economic and military assistance to Pakistan unless the president certified annually that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device.
"We have always treated India and Pakistan equally. Theoretically for the first time president and the Secretary of State have said that we are going to treat India at a higher level," Pressler said.
"I think, it's good news for India. I think Pakistan should realise (this). I wish he (Trump) would declare them a terrorist state. (But) I don't think he's going quite that far," the 75-year-old former Republican Senator from South Dakota said.
He also said that China will not "embrace" Pakistan as much as they say because they recognise that Pakistan is a very "unreliable ally" and they have been dishonest so much that is caught up with them finally, Pressler said in response to a question whether Islamabad will seek more support from Beijing after Trump's outburst.
Interestingly, Pressler in his book -- Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator's Quest for Disarmament in a Nuclear Subcontinent -- which was released last month had made similar recommendations.
"There's a whole cadre of people in the Pentagon and the military industrial state who look on Pakistan as a compliant state. They (Pakistanis) are deceitful and they have not delivered. And they harbored Osama bin Laden and lots of other terrorists and they still are and they should be declared as quickly as we can. We should declare them a terrorist state and treat them as such," he said.
He said the relationship between the US and Pakistan has always been "flawed".
"The Pakistanis have been dishonest every step of the way and they used this tactic over and over. And our Pentagon has yielded to them over and over informally as I say in my book. A lot of this has been under the colour of our military industrial state," he said.
"I think at last, we have a have a president who doesn't agree with this and we have a Secretary of State, Secretary of Defence. I think we're entering a whole new age. We should discard Pakistan in this false marriage... false partner. We should end it," he said.
However, Pressler said that it would be tough for the US because Pakistan spends "millions and millions" of dollars in lobbying in Washington.
"I'm afraid we probably won't do that. But for the first time in my lifetime we're no longer saying India and Pakistan are equal diplomatically," he added.