Revisiting Pak-US relationship: Debate on aid to Pakistan rages on in the US

US senators ask Clinton, Gates to ensure Pakistan is doing its utmost to fight extremists, before disbursing more aid.

Afp May 19, 2011


As US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and US military’s top officer Admiral Mike Mullen advised against cutting off aid to Pakistan, American senators urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gates to make sure Pakistan is doing its utmost to battle extremists before disbursing more US security aid.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, wrote Clinton and Gates a letter on Tuesday in the wake of the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

“We recognise the strategic importance of Pakistan,” wrote the group, which include Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.

“However, we cannot overlook the logical conclusion of recent events, which is to question whether the Pakistani security establishment is ardently working to prevent terrorist groups from operating on Pakistani soil,” they said.

The senators called for reviewing Pakistan’s efforts to end its support for extremist groups, prevent al Qaeda, the Taliban and others from operating on Pakistani soil, and bolster its counter-terrorism and anti money-laundering laws.

“We believe that conducting this assessment will be crucial for the Congress to determine whether to provide the full range of security assistance,” they said in the letter.

Pakistan received a total of $2.7 billion in aid and reimbursements from Washington in fiscal year 2010, which ended on October 1, making it the third-largest recipient of US aid after Afghanistan and Israel.

Finding Bin Laden in Pakistan “indicates, at a minimum, a lack of commitment by the Pakistani military to aggressive cooperation with the United States,” the senators said. “This is particularly concerning as the Congress again considers increasing security assistance to Pakistan,” they said.

Not cutting off aid

Gates and Mullen advised against cutting off aid to Pakistan for its failure to go after militant leaders, saying Washington had important interests at stake and that Islamabad had already been “humiliated” by the raid.

“I think we have to proceed with some caution,” Gates said. “My own view is we need to continue the assistance that we have provided that benefits the Pakistani people,” he said.

The Pentagon chief, in his first press conference since bin Laden was killed on May 2, argued against punishing Pakistan by suspending aid as Islamabad had suffered a blow as a result of the covert raid.

“If I were in Pakistani shoes, I’ve already paid a price. I’ve been humiliated, I’ve been shown the Americans can come in here and do this with impunity,” he said.

As to whether Pakistani authorities knew the hiding place of bin Laden, Gates said: “It’s my supposition, I think it’s a supposition shared by a number in this government, that somebody had to know, but we have no idea who and no proof and no evidence.”

He said he shared the “frustration” felt by US lawmakers towards Pakistan but stressed that President Barack Obama’s administration could not make allegations without evidence.

“It’s hard to go to them with an accusation when we have no proof that anybody knew.”

Mullen said it would take time to learn who may have known about bin Laden in Pakistan as intelligence agencies are still poring over a large amount of material found at the al Qaeda leader’s compound.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2011.



John | 11 years ago | Reply PAK is a dependent nation. It is either US or China for aid, and India for survival. Can anyone in Pakistan honestly predict where will PAK be without the three nations? The prosperity of PAK is dependent on her establishing strong ties with India, with whom she has so much in common in commerce, agriculture, textiles, craftsmanship, art, culture and language. Both US and PAK become irrelevant for PAK survival, when PAK is in good relationship with India. As long as enmity with India continues, PAK will remain dependent on US and China. No way out. What does PAK want, dependent on US and china or true independence? India cares less. Can PAK afford the same?
Saad H | 11 years ago | Reply Welcome news, no? Our leaders need to stop begging the US for money!
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