Cut off every cent of aid to Pak: US lawmakers

Washington: Prominent American lawmakers have asked the Obama administration to cut off every cent of its aid to Pakistan terming the country a "black hole" where the US has already "sunk" a whopping USD 24 billion since 2004.

"In Pakistan, billions of aid has been given to the Pakistanis since then – billions of aid – while they, at the same time, have terrorised their neighbours and repressed their own people; those own people like the Balochs, who are now fighting and struggling for their freedom there," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said at a Congressional hearing.

"We should cut Pakistan off of every cent because it`s being used for evil purposes, and it`s even been used to kill Americans. It`s time we face reality, admit our mistakes, and cut our losses and quit supporting failed policies and corrupt dictators," Rohrabacher said during the hearing at the Middle East and South Asia Sub-committee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

During the hearing, senior Congressman Gary Ackerman accused Pakistan of sponsoring and providing shelter to terrorists. "Pakistan is like a black hole for American aid. Our tax dollars go in, our diplomats go in (sometimes), our aid professionals go in (sometimes), our hopes go in, our prayers go in. Nothing good comes out," said Ackerman.

"Since FY 2004, we have sunk USD 24 billion in foreign assistance to Pakistan. It is hard to fathom how so much money can buy so little. Waste at this scale requires not only an oblivious body politic and Congress, but a large cadre of government professionals and a horde of contractors," he said.

"Pakistan continues to shelter, directly support and sponsor terrorist. Officially acknowledging this indisputable fact might be grossly impolitic; but that doesn`t make it less true. American standing in Pakistani public opinion is terrible and getting worse," he said.

Pakistan is a difficult country with a long history of instability, military coups, and the harbouring of jihadists and other violent enemies of the West and basic democratic values, Congressman Robert Turner said.

"In light of recent tensions between Pakistan and our government, I think we should carefully reevaluate the nature of what has been a fundamental foreign policy relationship and its benefit to us.

The President has requested over USD 2.2 billion in assistance. I for one am concerned about how this money is being spent by this government that has been openly hostile to our interests and our values," Turner asked.

Committee Chairman Steve Chabot expressed concern over the continued terror sanctuary in Pakistan. "Regrettably, I fear it will not disappear anytime soon. To that point, the Department of Defence`s most recent report to Congress notes flatly that, quote, `The Taliban insurgency and its al-Qaeda affiliates still operate with impunity from sanctuaries in Pakistan,` unquote, which, quote, `remain the most critical threat,` unquote, to the US-led effort in Afghanistan," he said.

"At its core, Pakistani sanctuary is really a symptom of a larger problem. Our strategic objectives in Afghanistan are fundamentally incompatible with Pakistan`s. While we seek a sovereign and independent Afghanistan, Islamabad vies for a neighbour that can be easily influenced and controlled," he said.

"And as serious of a threat as Pakistani-based insurgent groups pose now, they have the potential to spiral post-2014 and place Afghanistan once more in the centre of a dangerous regional conflict," he said.

"I wish this were the only challenge in our bilateral relationship with Pakistan. But the 14-point guidelines approved by Pakistan`s parliamentary review of the country`s relationship with the US ensures that more bumps are surely ahead, particularly as we approach transition in Afghanistan. I hope the administration is considering how our policies should adjust to accommodate a shift in our interests vis-a-vis Pakistan post-2014," Chabot hoped.