WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s visit to China, which he declared his country’s best friend, makes it harder to sell an angry US public on aid to Islamabad, a key US senator said on Tuesday.
“Frankly, I’m getting tired of it, and I think Americans are getting tired of it as far as shovelling money in there at people who just flat don’t like us,” said Republican Senator James Risch.
Continued aid to Pakistan, Risch argued, was “a hard sell to the American people” when cash-strapped Washington sends assistance to Islamabad, only to see “the head of Pakistan go to China and... stand up and say ‘you\re our best friend’.”
His comments came during a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on sour US-Pakistan ties in the wake of the raid in which elite US commandos killed Osama bin Laden in a military academy town not very far from Islamabad. And they follow Mr Gilani’s arrival in China.
Asked at the hearing about the visit, former White House national security adviser Jim Jones said Washington must work to ensure that Mr Gilani’s visit to China does not worsen his country’s already strained India ties.
“If any part of Pakistan thinking is that better relations with China make India mad, and that’s therefore a good thing to do, then that’s flawed thinking,” said Jones.
“We need to try to ensure that we can make sure that relations don’t get worse as a result of this kind of trip and this kind of rhetoric,” said Jones.
He also said Washington must strive to convince countries like China, Brazil and India “that with this great economic power that they’re about to have, and already have in some cases, there comes some great responsibilities in terms of making the world a better place.”—AFP