Pakistan aid hanging in balance
WASHINGTON – Congressional Republicans and Democrats warned Pakistan on Tuesday that billions of dollars in American aid are at stake if Islamabad doesn’t step up its efforts against terrorists.
The frustration evident at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing exposed the dilemma for the United States, which needs Pakistan for its supply routes into Afghanistan in the 10th year of the war there and its help in any talks with the Taliban.
Just back from a weekend trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the committee chairman, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he told Pakistani leaders about the deep concerns in Congress and the nation about the country’s eagerness in the terror fight.
“I underscored the importance of seizing this moment to firmly reject an anti-American narrative that exploits our differences instead of finding common ground and advancing mutual goals,” Kerry said, three hours after landing on U.S. soil.
The United States has provided some $20 billion in aid to Pakistan since 2001, and there have been efforts in Congress to cut some of the $1.1 billion for Pakistan in the defense bill in the House.
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said his constituents have asked, “Why are we spending our kids’ and our grandkids’ money to do this in a country that really doesn’t like us? … It’s a hard sell to the American people.”