Hillary Clinton urged lawmakers not to cut farm aid for Africa.—AFP

WASHINGTON: Budgetary constraints are forcing US lawmakers to seek a balance between aid and US national security interests in Pakistan, says a congressional report.

The report, “Pakistan: US Foreign Assistance”, is about the current mood in the US Congress where lawmakers are reviewing the entire policy of providing financial assistance to other countries.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged lawmakers not to cut farm aid for Africa, noting that several African nations were facing cyclical droughts, causing tens of thousands of deaths.

The White House has requested $1.4 billion for its “Feed the Future” project in 2012.The latest report by the Congressional Research Service, however, warns that countries like Pakistan that do not face an immediate crisis, should be ready for aid cuts.

“Given the current budgetary constraints facing the United States and the recent strained relationship, the 112th Congress may question the return on such large investments in Pakistan, the second-largest US aid recipient,” the bipartisan report said.

“Lawmakers will seek the right balance between US aid expenditures to promote US national security interests in Pakistan and the region versus belt-tightening foreign aid cuts and accountability measures to address the lack of trust between the two governments,” it added.

The report noted that many American experts list the country among the most strategically important for US policy-makers. But recent major developments — including the killing of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan — have put strains on bilateral relations, making uncertain the future direction of US aid to Pakistan, the CRS reported.

Mounting distrust in the US-Pakistan relationship would also be a consideration for the lawmakers, it warned.