Kerry for continued US assistance for Pakistan

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has rejected a Congressman’s suggestion on cutting off assistance for Pakistan, advocating that such a move would be unwise in view of bilateral cooperation on high-stakes issues.
“Well, you know the old saying, Dana, about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Cutting off aid to Pakistan would not be a good move, certainly, at this point in time, for a lot of different reasons”, Kerry firmly told Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher during a Congressional hearing.
Rohrabacher, who has a history of adopting anti-Pakistan stances, was insisting that instead of conducting quiet diplomacy Washington should stop aid to Pakistan over imprisonment of Pakistani doctor, Shakeel Afridi. Dr Afridi, working for CIA, ran a fake vaccination campaign in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but has been jailed due to his links with militants.
“We are working with Pakistan with respect to nuclear weapons safety and nonproliferation. We are working with Pakistan to get our supplies both in and out of Afghanistan,” Kerry said while underscoring Pakistan’s key importance in the countdown to 2014 military drawdown from neighbouring landlocked Afghanistan.
Kerry was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Obama administration’s request for 2014 budget. Pakistan is expected to receive $1.2 billion in economic and military assistance in the new fiscal year.
In his answer, the top US diplomat also reminded the Congressman of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorists, saying the country lost perhaps 50,000 people in the last years to terror.
He also drew the lawmakers’ attention to complications surrounding the issue of Dr Afridi, saying, “It is just not as simple as holding everything accountable to one thing where they – they assert that there were certain laws that were broken.”
Questioned by another lawmaker about his perspective on India’s role in Afghanistan, Kerry said New Delhi can play an important role but at the same time pointed out implications of a complicated circle between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
“I’ve always believed in – because of their democracy, because of their tradition, there are great reasons for us to partner with India in many significant ways. But India and Pakistan obviously have a very different relationship. And so it’s a very complicated circle between Afghanistan, Pakistan, India.”
He also noted that the extent of Indian presence in Afghanistan, affects Islamabad’s views.
“How much India’s in Afghanistan affects Pakistan’s views, and they each have a capacity to see bad things happening depending on what the other does. So we have to work at that diligently.”
In his prepared statement for the testimony, Kerry noted, “Washington’s anti-terrorism assistance funding has helped the lives of hundreds of people in places like Pakistan, India, Lebanon, by training law enforcers to detect and neutralise explosive devices and help us interdict plots before they come to our shores.”
“Our 2014 budget request maintains our commitments to advancing peace, security and stability in places where all three can be very scarce commodities”.
On Afghanistan, Kerry informed the panel that Washington and Kabul are continuing their negotiations on a bilateral security agreement on future engagement with that country, where U.S.-led forces will end combat mission in 2014.
“Well, they’re proceeding. I think they’re going effectively. I had a very good meeting with President (Hamid) Karzai (of Afghanistan) a few weeks ago. I think he is well-disposed to want to finalize that agreement. I think it’s in everybody’s interests to do so. I have confidence that that will happen.”

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