Congressman Gary Ackerman had harsh words for Islamabad on Thursday, telling a House Foreign Affairs committee that, “Pakistan is not our pal, our buddy or our chum”. Ackerman insisted the U.S. must change its policy in light of Pakistan’s continual support for terrorists. The Democrat from New York also said:
“We need to rid ourselves of the absurd notion that we can change Pakistan, reform its government, or create real trust. We have neither the capacity nor the capability, and we certainly don’t have the spare billions to keep throwing away on these fool’s errands. No more magical thinking. It’s time to grow up and deal with Pakistan as it is, not as we hope or wish it to be.”
Ackerman claimed it was no secret Pakistan had harbored Osama bin Laden and was in league with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the terrorist group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Ackerman said Pakistan was a sovereign state pursuing its own self-defined interests in what he conceded was a “tough neighborhood”. However, the congressman also made clear Islamabad’s misguided policies and actions have destabilized the region. Hence, Pakistan is largely responsible for making the neighborhood “tough” in the first place.
According to Pakistani news site The Nation, Ackerman unequivocally stated that “Pakistan backs extremists” and that Islamabad’s objectives clashed directly with U.S. interests.
Tensions between Washington and Pakistan have escalated in recent weeks with U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen recently calling the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network “a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy agency.
Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told a parliamentary defense committee just weeks ago that Pakistan no longer needed American military aid and that he refused to compromise his country’s national sovereignty.
Meanwhile, The Nation also reported that a new State Department assessment indicated support on Capitol Hill for aid to Pakistan had plummeted and Congress had slipped on its 2009 promise to triple nonmilitary aid to Pakistan over five years. While Pakistan appropriations reached the promised level of $1.5 billion in 2010, it dropped this year to $1.1 billion.
However, the Associated Press obtained a copy of the document and had a different take, saying the Obama administration reaffirmed its “commitment to providing robust, multi-year civilian assistance to Pakistan”, although next year’s levels were uncertain.
The report also indicated that U.S. civilian aid to Afghanistan had “reached the high water mark” and less would be spent on Afghan development assistance as the U.S. withdraws troops. US economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan has fallen from $4.1 billion in 2010 to $2.5 billion in 2011.
For more articles by Michael Hughes about Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. Foreign Policy visit Michael’s website at www.MichaelHughesAssoc.com
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