US aid cut to send negative signal: Zardari

Islamabad has cautioned Washington that any move to reduce US aid would ruin Pakistan’s economy.

Islamabad: Islamabad has cautioned Washington that any move to reduce US aid would not only ruin Pakistan’s already troubled economy, but also hurt the United States’ image in the country.

“Any cut in assistance will not only impact our existing economic conditions at this critical moment, but will also send a negative signal to the public about the commitment of the US government towards the people of Pakistan when they are suffering heavily in economic terms due to unparalleled toll of war against terror,” President Asif Ali Zardari told a US Senate delegation comprising Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Jeff Merkley and Jeanne Shaheen.

Zardari expressed the hope that the US congressional leaders would avoid restricting aid for Pakistan.

The senators, who are visiting Pakistan after a two-day trip to Afghanistan, also called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Dawn reports.

Last month, the US House Foreign Relations Committee approved an authorisation bill for 2012, which provided for restrictions on the civilian assistance programme for Pakistan.

Additionally, the Obama administration, in response to pressure from congressional leaders, is reported to be linking security assistance to the fulfilment of counter-terrorism objectives.

Pleading against conditioning assistance for Pakistan, Gilani quoted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s words that the proposed restrictions would damage “the US considered foreign policy and diplomacy”.

During meetings with his Pakistani interlocutors, Senator Levin insisted that Pakistan’s failure to act against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, Afghan Taliban around Quetta and other militant extremists was undermining the American effort in Afghanistan.

In a media interview, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said: “We need to be very thoughtful in our approach to Pakistan, and I don’t think we can walk away. This is a complex country. Their cooperation is important to what we are doing in Afghanistan and equally important as we look at the future of this region.”


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