A group of senior U.S. Senators (all Democrats) are pushing the Obama Administration to halt any further aid to Pakistan until the government is convinced that Islamabad is not sheltering any more terrorists in the country and doing everything it can to stamp out Islamic militancy.
Suspicions about the Pakistan government’s complicity in harboring Osama bin Laden (and other prominent terrorists) have mushroomed ever since U.S. Special Forces found and killed the former al-Qaeda chieftain at a compound in Abbottabad, near the Pakistani capital two weeks ago.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D.Cal.), Max Baucus (D.-Mon.), Finance Committee Chairman, and Senators Robert Menendez (D.N.J.), Ben Nelson (D.-Neb.)and Jon Tester (D.-Mon.) have jointly sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which they wrote that bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan all these years indicates, at a minimum, a lack of commitment by the Pakistani military to aggressive cooperation with the United States.”
We recognize the strategic importance of Pakistan, the Senators wrote.
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.”
The letter further noted: “It is incongruous to be providing enormous sums to the Pakistani military unless we are certain that it is meeting its commitment to locate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist threats inside its borders. Prior to the provision of any additional assistance ... we urge you to assess Pakistan's commitment.”
The US government approved more than $2-billion in aid for Pakistan in mid-April – however, that disbursement could now be held up indefinitely. Feinstein, Nelson and Tester are also members the Senate Appropriations Committee, which plays an influential role in allocating foreign aid.
According to reports, since 9/11, the U.S. Congress has approved about $20-billion in aid to Pakistan – half of which has been
allocated for security issues.
Pakistan is the third largest recipient of US foreign aid, behind Afghanistan and Israel.
However, not all Congressional members are in favor of cutting off aid to a key ally, citing that Pakistan itself has lost tens of thousands of lives in the war against terrorism.
This is not the time to start flexing our muscles, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) told reporters.
This is the time to withhold judgment.”