WASHINGTON: Senior US lawmakers and their witnesses are gathering on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to once again ask Pakistan if it is America’s friend or foe.

The House Subcommittees on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and Asia and the Pacific are jointly holding this hearing, hoping that it would help them determine how to deal with Pakistan, an old ally many in Congress no longer trust. The chairman of one of the subcommittees is a Republican lawmaker, Congressman Ted Poe, who never makes an effort to hide his dislike for Pakistan.

“This hearing will give members the opportunity to learn more about Pakistan’s longstanding ties to terrorist groups and allow for a more informed reassessment of US foreign policy priorities vis-à-vis Islamabad,” said Mr Poe while explaining why he had called the hearing.

Former US ambassador to Afghanistan and United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, is one of the three witnesses who have been asked to explain Pakistan and its policies to the lawmakers.

The other two witnesses are Bill Roggio, senior editor, Long War Journal, and Tricia Bacon, Assistant Professor, American University.

In a recent statement, Mr Khalilzad urged the United States to adopt a policy of total isolation against Pakistan and turn it into a “second North Korea” to force it to cooperate in Afghanistan.

“The United States has spent tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in aid to Pakistan since 9/11. Now, 15 years later, Pakistan’s military and intel services are still linked to terrorist organisations and little success has been made to stabilise the region,” said Congressman Matt Salmon, who heads the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

“We must take a closer look at US goals, expectations and our aid spending in the region. In this hearing, we will discuss the Administration’s failed policy towards Pakistan and debate the best way forward,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2016