WASHINGTON: A US congressional panel has demanded cutting off all US aid to Pakistan for its support of the Afghan Taliban groups using its territory to launch operations into Afghanistan. Several prominent US lawmakers also recommended declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism and imposing economic sanctions if Islamabad failed to act against terrorist safe havens on its territory.
The Tuesday’s joint hearing of the House subcommittees on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade and Asia and the Pacific hearing titled “Pakistan: Friend or foe?” sharply criticized Pakistan for supporting Taliban and other Jihadi groups as a strategic asset and for being manipulative in dealing with the United States.
“They are making chumps out of us. They see us we are being so stupid. It seems like paying the mafia,” said Congressman Matt Salmon, Chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“If I may use an undiplomatic term, we have been patsies,” said former US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad.
Ambassador Khalilzad claimed that Pakistani leaders had gamed the American system for decades.
“Patsies chumps. Most Americans see out of this and yet our so-called leaders do not really get it,” said Mr. Salmon while endorsing Mr. Khalilzad’s views.
Ambassador Khalilzad and Bill Roggio, senior editor of the Long War Journal, called for cutting aid to Pakistan and placing it on the list of state sponsor of terrorism.
“At the end they are treating us like chumps. And we are more than willing to keep on handing out money to Pakistan,” Mr. Roggio said in his testimony.
“Pakistanis are very clever in manipulating us. I have to say that,” added Mr. Khalilzad. He claimed that Pakistani leaders and officials reached out to US lawmakers, invited them for visits and charmed them with promises that were never implemented.
Pakistan’s ability to manipulate US legislators and policy makers ensured the continuation of US military and economic assistance to the country, he added.
“My experience in dealing with Pakistan is that they will only give you something when they know that they are going to get something,” said Mr. Khalilzad, who dealt with Pakistani officials as a senior diplomat of the Bush administration.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia created the Taliban and the Haqqani network and Pakistan was protecting them.
He said the continuation of US aid to Pakistan was “ridiculous” and urged the US administration to reach out directly to people of different Pakistani regions instead.
“People of Balochistan should understand that the US is on their side for their independence and self-determination from a corrupt, viscous terrorist supporting regime,” Mr Rohrabacher said. “Same with the Sindhis, same with other groups in Pakistan.”
He claimed that the Pakistani “regime” was repressive and was “corrupt with their own people.” And yet “we continue to give them some type of support ... absolutely absurd,” he added.
Focused on Pakistani intelligence agencies and asked panelists if the agencies were “a state within a state”.
“It is by no means a rogue institution within Pakistan. It does not operate independently or on its own. It is an instrument or an arm of the Pakistani army,” said Tricia Bacon, an assistant professor at the American University.
“It is implementing the policies of the Pakistani army. It is implementing on behalf of the Pakistani army.”
“I concur with my colleagues,” Mr. Khalilzad said.
Congressman Salmon recommended that as the first step, the United States should completely cut off aid to Pakistan.
“That would be the right first step. If we do not (make) any changes, we move some of the other suggestions, state sponsor terrorism, possible economic sanctions,” he added.
The recommendations of the two subcommittees to the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress are significant in enacting legislations affecting the US policies toward Pakistan.