No threat to US’ financial assistance to Pakistan: Hafeez

Pakistan’s Finance Minister denied any threat to financial aid to Islamabad,

Updated: May 08, 2011, 14:04 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh has dispelled the impression that the United States would suspend its economic assistance to the country in the wake of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s discovery and killing in Abbotabad.

The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.

US lawmakers said it defied logic that bin Laden was able to hide in plain sight without some level of official Pakistani knowledge or complicity.

Some even suggested that three billion dollars in annual US military and economic assistance be reconsidered, while others joined with House Speaker John A. Boehner, who said: “This is no time to back away from Pakistan.”

Senator Frank Lautenberg, who serves on the Appropriations subcommittees on State and Foreign Operations and Homeland Security, said that monetary assistance to Islamabad must be suspended until Congress is assured that the Pakistan government is not providing safe havens to terrorists on its soil.

“Before we send another dime, we need to know whether Pakistan truly stands with us in the fight against terrorism. Until Congress and the American public are assured that the Pakistani government is not shielding terrorists, financial aid to Pakistan should be suspended,” Lautenberg stated.

However, Pakistan’s Finance Minister denied any threat to financial aid to Islamabad, while talking to media persons after a meeting of the Economic Advisory Council.

“There is no threat to the assistance because economic relations with the US are at government to government level,” the Dawn quoted Hafeez, as saying.

He also said that neither the tax rate would be increased, nor would any new tax be introduced in the next budget.

The tax base would be broadened by netting non-filers, and the taxation system would be made more equitable, he added.