By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 10:56 am in Congress.
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, has been in Pakistan the last few days and he sent this report this morning:
With the excitement of passing the health care reform bill still echoing in my ears, I left Washington on Monday night for Pakistan — my third trip in a year to this region that is so important to American security interests.
Along with three other members of Congress, we came here to review the effort against the Taliban, who continue to attack our troops in Afghanistan, to look into the extent to which the Pakistani government is willing to be helpful to the United States, and to check on the effectiveness of restrictions that Congress put on the use of American military aid by the Pakistan military. The previous Administration was letting Pakistani generals use our money like their personal piggybank. It appears now that there are better controls and the money is being used to train the military and fight the Taliban.
We arrived in Pakistan at 2:00 am Wednesday (local time). We started our meetings with the U.S. Ambassador and American intelligence officials for a briefing on efforts to find and destroy the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. We also met with the Pakistani Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to discuss the impact of American efforts in Afghanistan and the impact on Pakistan. There seems to be a split in the government about the likelihood of the success of our efforts. We finished by having dinner with a friend from the lawyers’ movement that took to the streets earlier this year to save democracy in Pakistan from a corrupt Supreme Court and a military dictator. As you may know, they were successful in getting rid the corrupt judges and the dictator. New elections were held, at great personal risk to those involved.
Thursday morning we took a helicopter for an hour north of Islamabad to Peshawar to visit a displaced persons camp. Since the fighting began last year almost 2.5 million Pakistanis have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence. We met with refugees and humanitarian workers.
It was very hard to see so many families and children forced to live in such distress. The international aid community does an unbelievable job to help these people. We were fortunate to be able to deliver over $400,000 in medical supplies from the people of the United States for the displaced Pakistanis. We were also able to deliver invaluable medical pressure packs that have been remarkable in savings the lives of our troops and civilians injured by roadside bombs and other explosives. Our delivery came none too soon; as we were doing this, a bomb killed 3 people while we were in Peshawar, a grim reminder of the daily threat to civilians’ lives here.
With additional security we continued our meetings with government officials and then flew back to Islamabad to meet with USAID representatives to discuss building schools for girls and training teachers so young people will have an alternative to the Madrassas (schools) set up by the Jihadists. It was a very long day but we learned a lot and I think we did some good in a tough part of the world with a lot of violence and suffering. Leaving Pakistan at 2:00 am local time to return to the States.