ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday angrily criticised US moves to freeze $700 million in aid, the latest sign of the fraying alliance that has been in deep crisis since Nato fire killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
“We believe that the move in the US Congress is not based on facts and takes narrow vision of overall situation hence wrong conclusions are unavoidable,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters.
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the legislation, which the Senate is expected to vote on as early as Thursday.
The bill would freeze the aid, pending assurances that Islamabad has taken steps to thwart militants who use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against US-led forces in Afghanistan.
“If this legislation becomes law, we'll work with the government of Pakistan on how we can fulfill the requirements. But, this requires us to maintain a strategic perspective,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Pakistan shut down the vital US supply line into neighbouring Afghanistan and ordered US personnel to leave the Shamsi air base, reportedly used as a hub by CIA drones, after attacks killed 24 soldiers on November 26.
Pakistan says it is reviewing terms of engagements with the United States and Nato, but parliament has so far stopped short of announcing any specific measures pending a joint session for which no date has been called.
A parliamentary committee is considering a proposal to scrap tax exemptions on Nato goods shipped to Pakistan and trucked to the Afghan border.
The powerful military, anyway, is considered the final arbiter of policy.
It has bolstered its air defence systems on the Afghan border, where officials say 160,000 troops are deployed.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta visited American troops in Afghanistan close to the Pakistani border on Wednesday, calling on Islamabad to secure its side of the border, by cracking down on Taliban havens on its territory.
“I think the real question has to be what has been done on the Afghan side of the border,” Abdul Basit told reporters.
“Pakistan cannot be held responsible for weaknesses and loopholes on the other side of the border,” he added.