Uneasy UK rebuffs calls to cut aid to Pakistan

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London: Uneasy with what Prime Minister David Cameron called Osama bin Laden`s "extensive support network" in Pakistan, Britain has nonetheless refused to cut its multi-million pounds aid to it that is increasingly recognised as willing or unwilling host to terror groups.

Pakistan is set to be Britain`s biggest aid recipient by 2015. However, aid to the country – GBP 350 million per year over four years – is tied to the country making progress on reform, tackling corruption and building a more dynamic economy.

After the killing of bin Laden in the shadow of military academy in Abbottabad, there have been many demands from people to cut British aid to Pakistan, including ruling Conservative MPs such as Philip Davies.

He said: "It seems to me that there are certainly some questions about how much Pakistani security forces knew about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.”

“Why on earth we would want to be giving billions of pounds to them when there are suspicions they knew about Osama bin Laden`s whereabouts for years, God only knows. It is not a country I think we should be giving money to."

Cameron, who famously said during his visit to India last year that Pakistan should not "look both ways" on the issue of terrorism, told MPs in the House of Commons that this was not the time to turn away from Pakistan.

Delivering a vote of confidence in Pakistan`s political leadership, in spite of his acknowledging that there were "unanswered questions" over bin Laden`s "extensive support network," he said. Britain will ask searching questions on the issue.

He said: "I believe it is in Britain`s national interest to recognise that we share the same struggle against terrorism. That`s why we will continue to work with our Pakistani counterparts on intelligence gathering, tracing plots and taking action to stop them."

He added: "We don`t know the extent of that network so it is right that we ask searching questions about it and we will. Of course there are frustrations and questions that will be asked about who knew what in Pakistan and how could this man live in such a large house in such a comfortable-looking community so close to military installations."

In a statement, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "British aid to Pakistan is not just aid from Britain, but also aid for Britain.”

“It is in Britain`s national interest to help tackle the root causes of extremism such as poverty, inequality and lack of education.”

“Thanks to British taxpayers, another four million children will be educated over the next four years in Pakistan. If you are a child in Karachi, your chance of getting an education is currently worse than in any other city in the world."

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