CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Cincinnati's west side, has joined 18 Democrats sponsoring a measure that strongly condemns Gen Pervez Musharraf's power grab in Pakistan. Chabot is the only Ohioan whose name is on the House resolution calling for restoration of constitutional government, the release of opposition leaders and a fresh review of all U.S. financial and military aid. Two other Republicans have signed on. The resolution stops short of saying Musharraf should step down, and notes that Pakistan has been a key ally in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Still, it expresses deep disapproval of the move toward dictatorship.
Surprisingly, Chabot has not said much - if anything -- about the resolution condemning Musharraf, which was filed when the crisis began 10 days ago. There's been no press release, no discussion on his House Web site, and no media coverage. He is running for reelection next year, and his concern about human rights and the rule of law in Pakistan would seem to be an issue that would put him in good stead with voters. Perhaps he doesn't want to be seen as cozying up with Democrats. One of HR 810's co-sponsors is Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who has targeted Chabot for defeat next year and has been running ads in Cincinnati that call Chabot a Bush patsy. Apparently, they do agree on at least one thing: Musharraf is a tyrant.
The resolution calls for Pakistan to protect the security of opposition leaders, and specifically mentions former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who has been in and out of house arrest and has become the leading foe of Musharraf's government.
A similar measure is pending in the Senate, where Democrats John Kerry and Joe Biden have publicly upbraided Pakistan's president. Chabot has been a member of the House Pakistan Caucus, which is supposed to foster closer ties between that nation and the U.S. But it also is a channel for Pakistani Ameicans to lobby members of Congress.