The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its nomination hearing on Tuesday with Richard Olson and James Cunningham, nominated for the posts of US Ambassadors to Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively, giving their testimonies.
In his opening remarks, the committee’s chairman Senator John Kerry said Pakistan remains central to what happens in Afghanistan.
“Last year was very challenging for our relationship with Pakistan,” he added.
Many Pakistanis, according to him, believe that the US will abandon the region like it did after the Soviet war. And that is why, he said, Pakistan “continues to hedge its bets and rely on certain insurgent groups for strategic depth.”
Senator Lugar said that despite the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have a presence in Pakistan. In his opening statement, Ambassador Olson said that Pakistan was a nation with resilient people and has great potential.
He highlighted the economic challenges that Pakistan faces, and acknowledged that the last few years had been hard for relations between the US and Pakistan. He added that Pakistanis had suffered greatly from violence in the country.
During the question and answer session with the nominees, Senator Kerry asked Ambassador Olson about the Haqqani Network. Olson said that the Haqqani Network was one of the toughest challenges that the US face.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.