Today’s hearing could not be more timely. A few weeks ago when I called this hearing meeting, we planned to deal with the state of political affairs in Pakistan and how the United States could best help provide stability and security in the region.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was invited to testify on the situation of terrorist elements finding sanctuary in the border areas of Pakistan. We asked that he analyze the effectiveness of current U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan. We also requested the secretary to give us assessment of the strength of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations in those areas and what can be done to mitigate future terrorist attacks in the United States.  We also suggested that he offer an evaluation of the current political leadership in Pakistan.

Mr. Negroponte, we were quite pleased that you accepted our invitation to testify back then, and – given what has happened since Saturday, we are delighted that you didn’t break our date! No doubt your prepared testimony has evolved over the last few days.

From the perspective of the United States, what happens in Pakistan is of tremendous importance. The political crisis there has broad implications for our country, for Afghanistan and for all the nations in the region. Today, we will address some of those concerns.

Because I believe we need to have a serious dialogue between the Administration and members of this committee, we will just have very brief opening statements from the chair and ranking members of the full committee and the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

As a last word, I just wanted to note that President Musharraf has reached out to officials in our government, both in the Administration and in the Congress. He placed a call to me just yesterday, and I find it noteworthy that in this time of crisis he’s seeking a dialogue with both the Administration and the Congress.

I turn now to my esteemed colleague, Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for any remarks that she would like to make.