US lawmakers warn to cut off aid to Pakistan

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 9 (PTI) Stepping up pressure on Pakistan,US lawmakers have threatened to cut massive aid to the countryunless it frees an American diplomat detained over shadowykilling of two Pakistanis.

The tough message that the US aid may be in jeopardy wasdelivered to Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani bythree top Congressmen during their just concluded trip toPakistan and Afghanistan.

The warning by lawmakers came amid media reports that USAdministration has warned Islamabad that high level dialoguewould be at risk unless the US embassy staffer Raymond Daviswas released.

The Congressmen Howard "Buck" McKeon who heads the HouseArmed Services Committee, John Kline, Chairman Education andLabour Committee and Silvestre Reyes, the senior Democrat onthe House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence toldGilani that Islamabad should release the diplomat as certainlythere was a possibility that "there would be repercussions ifthey don''t".

"During the meeting with the Prime Minister, thedelegation pressed (Yusuf Raza) Gillani on the potentiallong-term implications to the US-Pakistani strategicrelationship if the US diplomat detained in Lahore is notreleased," said Kline.

The influential Republican Congressman Kline told thePakistan Prime Minister "it is possible that a member ofCongress could come up with amendments to cut funding forPakistan based on the detention of Davis".

The delegation also met the powerful Chief of the ArmyGeneral Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

"The delegation pressed Prime Minister Gillani on thepotential long-term implications to the US-Pakistani strategicrelationship if the Pakistani government does not release USdiplomat Raymond Davis, who is currently detained byauthorities in Lahore," Reyes said.

Talking to reporters here, McKeon said the delegationindicated it could very well be that the US might considerwithholding funding.

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