WASHINGTON: US lawmakers are continuing their assault on Pakistan here and quietly moved a resolution in Congress, asking for cutting all but nuclear-safety assistance to the country.
The move contrasts sharply with recent efforts by US and Pakistani governments aimed at reducing tensions over Islamabad’s alleged links to the Haqqani network of militants.
On Monday evening, US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, spoke with Ambassador Husain Haqqani and conveyed Washington’s desire to deescalate tensions.
Mr Grossman is believed to have told the ambassador that “the US considers Pakistan an ally and despite challenges and disagreements will continue to work with the country’s democratic leadership”.
Also on Monday, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh met US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides and both agreed to resolve the dispute through “diplomatic means”, official sources said.
“Mr Nides agreed that current adversarial heights and the war of words need to be reduced,” said a diplomatic source.
In another move aimed at de-escalation, Mr Grossman and Ambassador Haqqani plan to address a joint news conference on Wednesday and talk about the efforts both sides have so far made to overcome the crisis.
But temperatures remain high in both chambers of the US Congress where lawmakers continue to attack Pakistan, with some even suggesting that Washington should now encourage India to take a higher profile in Afghanistan.
The current crisis in bilateral relations began last week after scathing remarks by Admiral Mike Mullen, outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who spoke openly of the links between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the Haqqani network.
Soon after the admiral’s statement, Congressman Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas, tabled H. R. 3013, also known as the Pakistan Accountability Act, a piece of legislation which, if passed by Congress, will freeze all US aid to Pakistan with the exception of funds that are designated to help secure nuclear weapons.
The Pakistan Accountability Act stipulates that:
(a) Prohibition:- Except as provided in subsection (b), assistance may not be provided to Pakistan under any provision of law.
(b) Exception:- Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to assistance to ensure the security of nuclear weapons.
(c) Effective Date:- This Act shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with respect to amounts allocated for assistance to Pakistan that are unexpended on or after such date.
“Ever since we found Osama bin Laden living the high life in Abbottabad, we’ve had our suspicions about Pakistan,” Congressman Poe told the House while introducing the resolution.
“Turns out they are disloyal, deceptive, and a danger to the United States. This so-called ally takes billions in US aid, while at the same time supporting the militants who attack us.”