Congressmen seek freeze on aid to Pakistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): Doubting Pakistan's stance that it had no knowledge about the presence of Osama bin Laden in an affluent suburb of Islamabad, US lawmakers have demanded a freeze on US aid to the South Asian country.
Congressman Ted Poe from Texas announced his decision to introduce legislation in House of Representatives. If passed, the measure will prohibit foreign aid to Pakistan until it proved that it was really unaware of the Al Qaeda chief's whereabouts.
"Pakistan has a lot of explaining to do. It seems unimaginable that bin Laden was living 1,000 yards away from a military base in a million dollar mansion built especially for him and no one in the Pakistani government knew about it. I don't buy it,” said Poe, the vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
A first-time Congressman from Florida, who served in Afghanistan for two and half years, urged congressional leaders to end all American aid to Pakistan. It was impossible to believe that Osama was hiding in an affluent area without any support infrastructure.
"It is quite disturbing that this revelation comes on the heels of Pakistan's president admonishing Hamid Karzai not to support long-term security agreement with the United States.
"I served in Afghanistan and am familiar with the sanctuary being provided to Islamic terrorists in Pakistan. Many believe the central headquarters of the Taliban and Mullah Omar are located in Quetta," Allen West said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "It does cause one to question how this kind of facility, which stood out, was close to a military academy, could exist for the length of time it did exist. And we now know that bin Laden was there up to six years."
Questions, therefore, had to have been asked, she said, adding she was unaware whether or not those queries were answered by the Pakistanis, She would be seeking answers at a meeting with CIA Director Leon Panetta on Wednesday.
New York Congressman Peter King met Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani, and told him that it would be tough for them to approve aid. "I don't think it's been resolved, no, how ISI, which is a very effective intelligence agency, would not have seen this," he told reporters.
"I was trying to drive home to them, the relationship now has changed. They are at a crossroads. And you can't be coming to Congress and asking for $3 billion after this, after what happened, and expect to get it without serious, serious questions being asked and the relationship being reanalyzed,” he said.
Senator Lindey Graham, Ranking Republican on the Senate subcommittee responsible for doling out foreign aid, said: "You can't trust them, and you can't abandon them. One thing that's just not an option to me is to sever ties – that to me is a formula for a failed state."
Meanwhile, the White House said it was trying to find out the type of support network bin Laden enjoyed in his Abbottabad hideout.
“We look forward to finding out more information about the support network that did allow bin Laden to hide in this compound. We understand that the Pakistanis are investigating that as well," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told a daily news conference.
Carney said at this point in time the US did not know who, if anybody, in the Pakistani government was aware that bin Laden or a high-value target was living in the compound. "It's logical to assume that he had some sort of supporting network, but what constituted that network remains to be seen."
Former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said Pakistan had some tough questions that it needed to ask itself in the aftermath of the killing of the Al Qaeda leader. "I have to say I was surprised that he was hiding in plain sight and not in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is what I think we thought. But it's possible, I suppose, that they did not know," she told the Fox News.
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