U.S. State Department Defends Aid To Pakistan

world | Dec 07, 2011 | By RFE/RL 

The U.S. State Department has defended U.S. aid to Pakistan following new calls from some lawmakers for a review of whether economic and military assistance to the country is serving U.S. national interests.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on December 6 that the Obama administration believes U.S. assistance to Pakistan benefits the United States by seeking to strengthen Pakistani democratic institutions and to boost the Pakistani economy.

"We believe our assistance to Pakistan still continues to provide dividends for the American people, in trying to grow and strengthen Pakistan's democratic institutions, boost its economy," Toner said. "In the long term, those are the kinds of things we're seeking to achieve."

Citing tensions between Washington and Islamabad, the U.S. spokesman added that the U.S.-Pakistani relationship is "very complex."

U.S. lawmakers have recently expressed frustrations at Pakistan, accusing military and intelligence officials there of supporting the Islamist Haqqani network, blamed for attacks on U.S. forces and targets in Afghanistan.

Republican Party Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are among those who have called for reevaluating U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad have been under increased strain since a U.S. commando raid killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, and following NATO air strikes last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border.

compiled from agency and RFE/RL reports

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