Congressman McKeon said that as the House considered various spending bills efforts could be made to cut funds for Pakistan. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: Three senior US lawmakers have warned that Congress may halt aid to Pakistan if the country fails to release an American Embassy employee who shot and killed two Pakistanis.

The three congressmen said on Tuesday that they met Pakistani officials during a recent trip to the country and made clear there would be repercussions if the American were not released.

One of them, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairs the House Armed Services Committee while Congressman John Kline, chairs the Committee on Education and Labour. Congressman Silvestre Reyes is the senior Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Congressman McKeon said that as the House considered various spending bills efforts could be made to cut funds for Pakistan.

The American, identified as Raymond Davis, shot two men on Jan 27 in Lahore and is now in police custody awaiting trial.

Diplomatic observers in Washington say that the threat would further escalate a simmering dispute between the two countries over Mr Davis' fate.

Congressman Kline said that during their visit they also met Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and were “pretty frank” with him about halting American assistance over Mr Davis' detention.

The lawmakers noted that the United States had given Pakistan about $18 billion in civilian and military aid since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.

Mr Kline said that House leaders planed to bring a stopgap 2011 spending measure to the floor next week with a rule allowing for open amendments.

“My guess is there would be a lot of support” for an amendment to stop the flow of US funds to Islamabad, he said.

The threat came hours after Obama administration officials told the American media they were cutting off some high-level contacts with Pakistan and may downgrade planned meetings in response to the dispute.

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