News / USA

US Lawmakers Examine Pakistan Ties Post-Bin Laden

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (file photo)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (file photo)

For days, U.S. lawmakers have berated Pakistan over the discovery of Osama bin Laden at a large, fortified compound outside Islamabad.  Some legislators have suggested withholding U.S. aid until Pakistani officials explain how the terrorist leader was able to live under their noses for so long.  But while seeking answers, high-ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee describe Pakistan as a vital strategic ally, and say severing ties between Washington and Islamabad would be a costly mistake.

Days after U.S. Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden, lawmakers continue to ask pointed questions about Pakistan.  

"What did Pakistan’s military and intelligence services know?  What is appropriate to think they should have known?  Who did they think was living behind those 15-foot [4.5-meter] walls? All Americans and many other people are troubled by these questions," said Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

But the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was quick to add the following: "No matter what we learn about the events that preceded the killing of Osama bin Laden, we still have vital national security interests in this region."

The top Republican on the committee, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, agreed.

"We must admit Pakistan is not an easy partner.  But distancing ourselves from Pakistan would be unwise and extremely dangerous.  It would weaken our intelligence-gathering, limit our ability to prevent conflict between India and Pakistan, further complicate military operations in Afghanistan, end cooperation on finding terrorists, and eliminate engagement with Islamabad on the security of its nuclear weapons," Lugar said.

Testifying at a committee hearing was South Asia expert Michael Krepon, who spoke in sober tones about a possible rupture between Washington and Islamabad.

"The U.S.-Pakistan relationship could not have survived this long without the presence of vital common interests.  But we are now very close to another divorce," Krepon said.

Krepon said allowing such a divorce while continuing to pour massive U.S. resources into Afghanistan makes no sense.

"The future of Pakistan matters a whole lot more than the future of Afghanistan.  Pakistan, unlike Afghanistan, is a ‘hinge state’ [linchpin] in the Islamic world. U.S. military and diplomatic investments do not remotely correspond to the relative importance of Afghanistan and Pakistan to vital U.S. national security interests.  And some of our policies are increasing stress fractures within Pakistan," Krepon said.

U.S. Institute of Peace South Asia adviser Moeed Yusuf urged pragmatism and realism in U.S. expectations for Pakistan. "Relations with Pakistan will never be ‘good’.  But they are still necessary," Yusuf said.

Yusuf said the United States should forge a relationship with Islamabad that looks beyond America’s immediate needs in Afghanistan and the war on terror.

"Withdrawing [U.S.] aid at this moment would be tantamount to giving up on Pakistan.  To optimize gains, economic assistance must be tailored to ensure maximum development benefits.  There is a need to reconsider use of aid for short-term stabilization objectives.  There are things that money cannot buy.  And in Pakistan’s case, it is their strategic mindset.  India-Pakistan normalization is critical for Pakistan, but it is not our aid that is going to do the trick.  It would therefore be best to use America’s economic leverage to ensure better development outcomes.  And returns on the counterterrorism front should be linked only to security assistance," Yusuf said.

U.S. military and civilian aid to Pakistan has totaled about $20 billion during the past decade.  While agreeing aid should not be terminated, other experts advocated a more stringent certification process before disbursing funds, to ensure U.S. aid reaches its intended recipients and U.S. goals are met.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid