Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s visit to China, which he declared Pakistan’s best friend, makes it harder to sell an angry US public on aid to Islamabad, a key US senator said Tuesday.
“Frankly, I’m getting tired of it, and I think Americans are getting tired of it as far as shovelling money in there at people who just flat don’t like us,” said Idaho Republican Senator James Risch.
Continued aid to Pakistan, Risch argued, was “a hard sell to the American people” when cash-strapped Washington sends assistance to Islamabad, only to see “the head of Pakistan go to China and... stand up and say ‘you’re our best friend.’”
His comments came during a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on sour US-Pakistan ties in the wake of the raid in which elite US commandos killed Osama bin Laden in a military academy town near Islamabad.
And they follow Gilani’s arrival in China, where the Pakistani leader declared: “We are proud to have China as our best and most trusted friend, and China will always find Pakistan standing beside it at all times.”
Asked at the hearing about the visit, former White House national security adviser Jim Jones said Washington must work to ensure that Gilani’s visit to China does not worsen his country’s already strained India ties.
“If any part of Pakistan thinking is that better relations with China make India mad, and that’s therefore a good thing to do, then that’s flawed thinking,” said Jones.
“We need to try to ensure that we can make sure that relations don’t get worse as a result of this kind of trip and this kind of rhetoric,” said Jones.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2011.