Washington, Jan 3: Top American lawmakers, including some of his critics, applauded US President Donald Trump over his move to block USD 255 million military aid to Pakistan.
The US has decided to withhold the aid saying the fate of such assistance will depend on Islamabad's response to terrorism on its soil. Senator Rand Paul yesterday announced his agreement with Trump over the move and promised to bring in a legislation in the Congress to stop all US aid to Pakistan. "I wholeheartedly agree with President Trump on this.
The US has given USD 34 billion in direct aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan since 2002. That is not putting America first. White House puts the figure at USD 33 billion. The Kentucky Senator also expressed his support to Trump's tweet on Monday in which the US president accused Pakistan of giving the US "nothing but lies and deceit" in exchange for billions of aid, with the president declaring, "No more!".
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher also applauded Trump for his "realistic assessment" of Pakistan. "Pakistan's regime, though our government imagines otherwise, has long acted as a malignancy in South Asia. It pretends to benign neutrality, seducing the US into believing it will cooperate with us in the war on radical Islamic terrorism if we ship its political leadership copious tax dollars," said Rohrabacher.
"Pakistan's regime persists in playing both sides between modern civilisation and violent religious fundamentalism," he said. Rohrabacher said Pakistan's intelligence service "serves the Taliban" instead of providing the whereabouts of terrorists' hideouts to the US government. He cited the example of Osama bin Laden who lived in a house near Pakistan's leading military academy before the US military tracked the location and killed him. "Indeed, Dr. Afridi (Shakeel Afridi), who led us to bin Laden, now languishes in a Pakistan dungeon for his supposed effrontery," he added.
Both Rohrabacher and Paul have regularly pushed amendments to stop aid to Pakistan. Congressman Rick Nolan also gave Trump a thumbs-up for the Pakistan move. "Although I do not condone inflammatory tweets -- I agree that America should not be giving billions of dollars to countries like Pakistan that refuse to fight terrorism," he said.
"The truth is, the billions of dollars we have sent to Pakistan over the last 15 years has done nothing to make us safer. In fact, Pakistan has ties to the same terrorist organisations which they claim to be fighting!" he said. Nolan has joined Congressman Ted Poe in introducing legislation that revokes Pakistan's major non-NATO ally status.
On the other side of the spectrum, Republican Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who is founder and chair of the Congressional Pakistani Caucus, called for diplomatic efforts to resolve the differences with Pakistan. "As Chair and founder of the Congressional Pakistan Caucus, I appreciate the importance of using the tools of diplomacy and engagement to solve problems. In the past, Pakistan has fought against the terrorists," she said in a tweet.