WASHINGTON: In a hearing of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, US Congressman Gary Ackerman dubbed Pakistan a “black hole for US aid”.
In a committee session to debate US assistance and foreign policy in South Asia, Congressman Ackerman said that their aid, professionals, diplomats, prayers and hopes go into Pakistan, “but nothing good comes out.” He added that it was hard to imagine a more dysfunctional relationship.
In his remarks, Rep. Ackerman said that Pakistan continues to pursue its own national interest at the US’ expense. He added that money goes into Pakistan and emerges in bank accounts in the Gulf.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, in his remarks, said that billions of dollars in aid have been given to Pakistan, however they have “terrorised their neighbours, and their own people”, citing the example of the people of Balochistan. Rep. Rohrabacher also pronounced Baloch as “bal-ook”. “We should cut Pakistan off of every cent because it is being used for evil purposes,” he added.
Congressman Bob Turner said that in light of the recent tensions between Pakistan and the United States, the US should re-evaluate the nature of its foreign policy and see what is beneficial to the US.
The witnesses at the hearing included US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Robert Blake, who highlighted that increased trade between Pakistan and India was a positive sign. Dan Feldman, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that talks were continuing between US and Pakistan to re-open the NATO supply routes. In his opening remarks, Feldman said, “Pakistan is of critical importance to our regional strategy,” and that both countries had common interests. The session was in recess at the time of filing this report, and is expected to continue after members of the committee vote on the House floor.
In response to Representative Connolly’s questions about the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s actions against them, Feldman said that they are working with Pakistan jointly on targeting the Haqqani Network very explicitly. He added that they are continuing to work with Pakistan on ways whereby they can confront the group not just through military efforts but also on a “range of efforts civilian governments can take.”
Feldman said, “there are key Haqqani targets who have been killed over the past year through our own and shared efforts.”
When asked by Representative McFaul if the Secretary of State could testify that the Government of Pakistan was not working with the Haqqani Network, Feldman said that they were working on the certification. He though stressed that there is a need for increased co-operation with Pakistan.
“There is clearly more that could be done,” said the State Department official. He said that the way to get that done is through engagement.