Pakistan is a 'black hole' for US aid
Washington, May 17 (IANS) US lawmakers of both Democratic and Republican parties have slammed the Obama administration's request for $2.4 billion for Pakistan, calling it a "black hole" where the US has "sunk" $24 billion over the last decade.
"Pakistan is like a black hole for American aid," Gary Ackerman, top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East and South Asia said during a hearing Wednesday.
"Our tax dollars go in, our diplomats go in - sometimes, our aid professionals go in - sometimes, our hopes go in, our prayers go in," he said. "Nothing good ever comes out."
Alleging that Islamabad continues to pursue its national interest at America's expense and that of its allies, Ackerman said: "Pakistan continues to shelter, directly support and sponsor terrorists."
"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.
Similarly Republican Dana Rohrabacher blasted US support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who he said was taking "marching orders" from Pakistan.
"We should cut Pakistan off of every cent because it has been used for evil purposes, including killing American troops," he said.
However, a State Department official testifying at the hearing suggested cutting off aid would be short-sighted.
"Our current discussions with the Pakistanis on how best to pursue our common interests will take time to resolve, and it's not easy right now to provide satisfying answers to some questions," Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman said in written testimony.
But "the fact of the matter is, is that we've been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about any place else," he said citing President Barack Obama's words after the death of Osama bin Laden last May. "We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation."
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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