In a latest jab at Pakistan by the US, the House of Representatives has unanimously voted to cut American military aid to Islamabad by $650 million as Republicans sought to tamp down demands for deeper reductions.
The amendment to cut the aid, which was proposed by Republican Congressman Mr Ted Poe, passed on the floor in a voice vote. Mr Poe had demanded a $1.3 billion cut, but settled for the $650 million cut. It will now go to Senate for approval.
“Pakistan is the ‘Benedict Arnold’ to America in the war on terror. They are disloyal, deceptive and a danger to the United States,” said Mr Poe, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“This so-called ally continues to take billions in US aid, while funding the militants who attack us. And we’ve kept the money flowing. It’s time we turn off the tap,” Mr Poe said.
The State Department, however, refused to comment on the development, saying that since the legislative process was ongoing, it would not have any particular reaction.
“We continue to consult with Congress, but I don’t have any particular reaction to ongoing legislative debate,” said State Department spokesman Mr Patrick Ventrell.
“We continue to, obviously, support our Pakistani counterparts in key areas like counterterrorism, but I don’t have a particular reaction to ongoing legislative debate,” Mr Ventrell told reporters.
“By continuing to provide aid to Pakistan, we are funding the enemy, endangering Americans and undermining our efforts in the region. We don’t need to pay them to betray us; they are already doing it for free,” said Mr Poe.
The passage of the amendment comes at a fragile time for relations between the US and Pakistan, which only recently overcame differences that led Pakistan closing down a critical supply route into Afghanistan that had cost the United States about $100 million in additional war costs.