Senate foreign aid vote shows reluctance on Pakistan


Hafiz Saeed (second right), the head of banned charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa gestures as he sits with Maulana Sami ul-Haq (right) and others leaders of the Defense of Pakistan coalition raise hands in solidarity during a rally against the reopening of NATO supply to Afghanistan in Peshawar on April 15, 2012. Pakistan's insistence that no arms transit through its territory to Afghanistan is largely a gesture to quell domestic anti-US sentiment and will not hinder the resumption of NATO convoys, analysts say. Islamabad stopped NATO supplies travelling overland from its southern Karachi port to Afghanistan in November amid public outrage after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a US air strike on a border post.


A Majeed

US lawmakers on Tuesday moved to cut President Barack Obama’s requested aid for Pakistan by over half in a vote reflecting lawmakers’ growing frustrations with Islamabad, reported The Associated Press.

The voice vote held by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations reduced Obama’s request for Pakistan by 58 percent to $1 billion, said Reuters, and warned of further cuts unless Pakistan opens key supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan, said AP.

US-Pakistan ties have been strained recently, with Washington accusing Islamabad of not doing enough to fight extremists and Pakistan denouncing controversial US policies like its drone surveillance program.

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The final decision on foreign aid for countries like Pakistan still requires approval of the full Appropriations Committee, which is set to meet Thursday in a vote that will then go before the Senate and the House of Representatives in order to become law, said AP.

But Tuesday’s move is seen as an indication that budget-wary Washington may be less generous when it comes to foreign aid, with the subcommittee also voting against the president’s request for $850 million for police training in Iraq, according to Reuters.

Aid for Egypt and Afghanistan also met resistance, said AP., although additional funding for Jordan – where Syrian refugees have been fleeing en masse – had support.

The subcommittee approved a total of $52.1 billion for America's overseas work -- about $2 billion less than what Obama had asked for but some ten billion more than the budget supported by lawmakers in the lower House Representatives in a recent vote, said Reuters.