US Republicans hit aid to Pakistan


US Republicans moved Wednesday to cut aid to several of Israel’s neighbours and to tighten control of assistance to Pakistan, vowing to get tough on militants and tame US spending. The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee pushed a range of issues in a spending bill for the fiscal year starting in October, including cutting US contributions to the United Nations and restricting funding for abortion.
But to come into force, Republican lawmakers will need to reach a compromise with the Senate where President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party retains control and is mostly supportive of the administration’s international engagements. “Our goal is to promote democratic governments in these countries and ensure that US taxpayers are not subsidizing groups that seek to undermine US policies, interests and allies,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House committee.
The bill would impose tighter controls on assistance to Pakistan in light of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden and persistent questions about the country’s military and intelligence. The Obama administration recently suspended about one-third of its $2.7 billion annual defense aid to Pakistan. But it has assured Pakistan it is committed to a five-year, $7.5 billion civilian package approved in 2009 that aims to build schools, infrastructure and democratic institutions. The Republican bill would also make the civilian aid contingent on measurable progress by Pakistan in fighting militants.