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Pak has to stop LeT, JeM to get US aid

Pak has to stop LeT, JeM to get US aid

Author: Chidanand Rajghatta
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 23, 2009

Introduction: Must Allocate 75% Funds for Tackling Terror

Protesters demonstrating against misuse of American taxpayer dollars briefly disrupted a Senate hearing on US aid to Pakistan on Thursday, but US lawmakers by and large fell in line with the Obama administration's proposal to not legislate exacting conditions on the multi-billion dollar assistance but hold Islamabad to account through executive oversight.

Shouting "Say no to a war economy," and "No more blood money," some half-dozen placard-waving demonstrators interrupted a testimony by top ranking US general Mike Mullen. They were evicted quickly even as law-makers agonized about throwing US taxpayer dollars at Pakistan without sufficient benchmarks and accountability.

India remained the elephant in the room as Senators mulled gravely over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and its unbridled expansion, the rogue nature of the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, and Islamabad's fundamental insecurity vis-à-vis New Delhi, in a hearing that reflected the complex nature of the Af-Pak situation.

As with the House legislation, the Senate bill too avoided explicitly mentioning India. But in both cases, sources monitoring the accountability factors expressed satisfaction over the euphemism that will make US aid conditional to Pakistan ceasing terrorist activity against ''neighbouring countries.''

More important, sources said, was the addition of the names of terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed to Al-Qaida and Taliban which Pakistan has to act against to be eligible for US aid. Lawmakers have also insisted Pakistan spend 75% of the funds on counter-insurgency efforts and scuppered any effort by Islamabad to buy F-16 fighter jets with anything but its own money.

Meanwhile, Congressional staffers clarified that the House bill on aid to Pakistan did not explicitly mention US access to AQ Khan at any time as a condition for assistance. However, the legislation calls on Pakistan ''to ensure access of US investigators to individuals suspected of engaging in worldwide proliferation of nuclear materials, as necessary, and restrict such individuals from travel or any other activity that could result in further proliferation.''

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