Rocca made incharge of South Asia at State Dept
By Amir Mateen - The News: Jang (Pak.) April 21, 2001
WASHINGTON: The White House on Wednesday formally announced the nomination of Christina Rocca as the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. She will be the point person in the Bush Administration dealing exclusively with South Asia.
As Legislative Assistant of Senator Brownback, Rocca is known to have helped him formulate a more active US policy towards South Asia. She also shares Senator Brownback's views on a tough US stance towards China. But it's her 15-year stint at the CIA that has stoked the imagination of the South Asians already bent towards all things conspiratorial. This may be one reason that not much is known about her political and public leanings.
However, one can safely assess that having served as Staff Operations Officer for the CIA Directorate of Operations from 1982 to 1997, she must be familiar with the agency's biggest operation during that time - Afghanistan.
That this era was also the pinnacle of Pak-US relations may provide some solace to Pakistani diplomatic corps. However, her forte remains her grasp of the issue related to sanctions against Pakistan and India. Observers say this was the major reason that finally won her job.
Senator Brownback, with whom she had worked for considerable time, might be an important prism to judge Rocca. As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Brownback was instrumental in getting the Executive the waiver authority to lift sanctions.
The corporate America, which has massive interest in Indian market, led by AIG in the field of insurance, now wants the removal of these sanctions in toto. Rocca is known to have varied interests in South Asia as well as the Middle East. She has been an activist for the freedom of Tibet, something that endears her to Indian sympathisers.
She was part of the Presidential Study Group a bipartisan, Blue-ribbon Commission of the Washington Institute, which recently asked President Bush to follow official pledges to pursue terrorists for their crimes even when diplomatically inconvenient. In a policy paper co-signed by Rocca, the Institute proposed that the US should be prepared to use military force against countries that provide safe haven to terrorists. Unlike other candidates, however, she is not branded as pro one country or another.
But given the state of affairs, Pakistan can expect a tougher stance on issues like terrorism. Rocca will have Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives under her domain at the South Asia Bureau in the State Department. The bureau is one of its six regional bureaus - including European Affairs, African Affairs, East Asia and Pacific, Middle East and Western Hemisphere. Rocca is a graduate in history from King's College at the University of London, England.
President Bush nominated her to the post that fell vacant in January following the departure of Karl Inderfurth. Her appointment needs to be ratified by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rocca is believed to have made it at the last minute when Matt Daley, who worked as deputy chief of mission in New Delhi, seemed like a sure bet. Rocca lives in neighbouring Virginia along with her husband and two children. She has visited India and Pakistan twice.
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