British MPs call for cutting Pakistan aid


British aid to Pakistan should be cut unless there is proof the funds help stop extremism, a report by British lawmakers said on Wednesday as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited London.

Published just hours before Nawaz Sharif was to meet British counterpart David Cameron, the International Development Committee report singled out Pakistan for criticism.

Pakistan is the largest recipient of bilateral British aid, with Islamabad set to receive £446 million ($750 million, 541 million euros) of assistance this year.

“It is unlikely that expenditure would be so high if the country were not having to confront extremism,” the report said. “If this is the case, the budget can only be justified if there is clear evidence that DFID (Department for International Development) support is effective in reducing the extremist threat.

“If not, we recommend that DFID consider reducing spending in Pakistan and increasing it in low-income countries.”

The British lawmakers also said that aid should not be increased until Pakistani political leaders pay their fair share of tax, and increase tax collection generally.

A DFID spokesman said: “Our investment in overseas development, including in Pakistan, creates a safer and more prosperous world for the UK.

“Tackling poverty in the world’s poorest places can mean tackling the root causes of global problems such as terrorism, which matter to us here in Britain. Education is vital to transforming Pakistan’s future and is where a significant proportion of our funds are directed.

“This is firmly in the UK’s own national interest.”

Nigeria was another example of a middle-income nation that benefited from significant help from British taxpayers, the cross-party international development select committee pointed out.

The proportion of the rising aid budget devoted to the poorest countries in the world – the UK recently became the first G7 member to meet a UN target of spending 0.7% of national income on development – was still too small, it concluded.