Pak slams move to freeze USD 700 mn aid from US
Last Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 21:31
Islamabad: An angry Pakistan on Thursday slammed a a US move to freeze aid worth USD 700 million, saying it was "not based on facts and takes a narrow vision of the overall situation", in the latest sign of the fraying bilateral ties.

"We believe that the move in the US Congress is not based on facts and takes a narrow vision of the overall situation," said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit.

In response to questions at a weekly news briefing, he said that "wrong conclusions are unavoidable" because of the approach adopted by the US.

The US House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation to freeze aid worth USD 700 million and the Senate is expected to vote on the measure this week.

The bill will freeze the aid pending assurances that Pakistan has taken steps to thwart militants who use improvised explosive devices against US-led forces in Afghanistan.

If the legislation becomes law, the US will work with the Pakistan government to see how it can fulfil the requirements, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes to neighbouring Afghanistan and forced US personnel to leave Shamsi air base, reportedly used by CIA-operated drones, after a NATO air strike killed 24 soldiers on November 26.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered the framing of "new terms of engagement" for the US, NATO and ISAF.

Basit said an envoys' conference held during December 12-13 to frame recommendations for the new terms of engagement had discussed the possible impact of cutting off of US and foreign aid.

Pakistan Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh gave a briefing to the conference on the economic aspect of the current situation, Basit said.

"We are very much cognizant of this aspect as foreign policy cannot be developed without taking into consideration the economic realities but Pakistan's sovereignty is non-negotiable," he said.

Basit contended that US and foreign forces in Afghanistan were not doing enough to control militancy.

Pakistan had deployed 160,000 troops and set up over 900 check posts along the Afghan border but the "real question is what is being done on the Afghan side of the border", he said.

"Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the weaknesses and loopholes on the other side of the border.

For the policy of hammer and anvil to be effective, necessary measures need to be taken on the Afghan side," he said.

A proposed joint session of Pakistan's parliament will debate recommendations made by the envoys and the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to decide the new terms of engagement for the US and NATO, officials said.

Basit said Pakistan is moving forward with the review of bilateral ties irrespective of whether the US provides an apology for the NATO air strike.

"We are getting into more concrete areas like reviewing our terms of engagement which are more important than any verbal apology," he said.

He further said there had been no US drone strikes since the NATO attack on Pakistan military posts on November 26.


First Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 21:31

Tag: USPakistanUS aid
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