This week I am offering an amendment that serves long-term U.S. national security interests by helping to give Pakistani children an educational alternative to extremist, jihadi-teaching madrasas to the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of State, Foreign Operations appropriations bill (H.R. 2764). The amendment, titled the Pakistan Education Assistance Amendment, aims to reprogram $75 million of previously unspecified American aid to Pakistan towards programs that support basic education for Pakistani children.

As Chairman for the Subcommittee for National Security and Foreign Affairs of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I recently led a Congressional Delegation to Pakistan and Afghanistan where I met with a range of people from various backgrounds as well as with the region's top officials. In May 2007, the National Security Subcommittee held a hearing to investigate the dangers of extremist madrassas in Pakistan, specifically in pursuit of a solution to stop radicalized education through the redirection of American aid to Pakistan.

Pakistan's extremist madrasas and jihadist training camps are hotbeds that fuel terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. It is in our national interest to help give Pakistani children an alternative. By designating this important funding for basic education alternatives, we will be fighting terrorism at its source -- stopping the process of Islamic extremism before it starts.

Over the last several years, the Pakistani government has been receiving a $200 million cash transfer in unregulated direct budgetary support from the Economic Support Fund account.  If passed, my budget-neutral amendment would specifically reprogram $75 million of those funds for basic education.

In 2003, the 9/11 Commission warned, "[i]t is hard to overstate the importance of Pakistan in the struggle against Islamic terrorism."  It is now past time to heed the 9/11 Commission's warning by addressing international terrorism at its origin - in failing school systems in places like Pakistan. Let us fight terrorism with textbooks and blackboards now, rather than with more bombs and bullets later.