Senior senators urge halt to Pakistan aid
There are several senior Democrat Senators urging the Obama administration not to disburse any more security aid to Pakistan until it is sure Islamabad is not letting al Qaeda and other militant groups operate there.
After US special forces kill Osama bin Laden in a Pakistan military town May 2, U.S. lawmakers from both parties are questioning whether billions of dollars in annual U.S. aid to Pakistan should continue.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, as well as Senators Robert Menendez, Ben Nelson and Jon Tester, wrote to Pentagon chief Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The discovery of bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad “indicates, at a minimum, a lack of commitment by the Pakistani military to aggressive cooperation with the United States,” the senators told Gates and Clinton.
“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,” they said in the letter dated Tuesday. “Prior to the provision of any additional assistance … we urge you to assess Pakistan’s commitment,” they said.
What this means is that money approved in April, approximately $2 billion in security aid, and reimbursements could be withheld. Feinstein, Nelson and Tester are also on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will help decide whether Congress will allocate Pakistan any more U.S. aid.
Yet there are other congressional leaders urging caution, saying Pakistan has also lost many of its own soldiers fighting extremist groups in its border areas. “This is not the time to start flexing our muscles,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid told reporters on Tuesday. “This is the time to withhold judgment” until more is known about whether Pakistani officials knew where bin Laden was hiding.
In the past 10 years, Congress has approved about $20 billion for Pakistan in economic aid and military reimbursements for helping to fight extremists in the region. About half of this has been security-related.
Tags: Al-Qaeda, Ben Nelson, Democrat Senators oppose, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Jon Tester, pakistan aid, Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton., Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, Sens Robert Menendez
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