Kerry opposes aid cut to Islamabad
Says Pak hasnít got full credit in Laden killing
US Senator John Kerry, who is also President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State, has opposed a suggestion of cutting aid to Pakistan, saying it would be a “dramatic, draconian and sledge-hammer” measure.
Kerry said that Pakistan had not been given enough credit for its assistance in the operation against al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
The senator was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of his confirmation hearing. Kerry said Americans were able to cooperate on the ground in Pakistan which was one of the reasons they were able to get to bin Laden.
“I don’t think the Pakistanis have, frankly, gotten credit sufficiently for the fact that they were helpful (in getting Osama bin Laden).
It was their permissiveness in allowing our people to be there that helped us to be able to tie the knots that focused on that, not exclusively, obviously, but to some degree,” Kerry told senators.
In the first term of the Obama administration, Kerry helped the US in resolving several key issues with Pakistan and has good relationship with the top leadership in Islamabad.
On the continued detention of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA in tracing bin Laden, Kerry said: “I have talked directly to (Pakistan) President (Asif Ali) Zardari and I’ve talked directly to (army chief) General (Ashfaq Pervez) Kayani about Dr (Shakil) Afridi.”
Arguing in favour of maintaining relationship with Pakistan, Kerry spoke against adopting a “dramatic, draconian, sledgehammer approach” to the ties as “we have our ground line of communications (in Pakistan), which is the military’s complicated word for ‘roads,’ that go to Afghanistan, and that route is critical to our supply of our troops.
“We have in addition to that, had intelligence cooperation. Our folks were able to cooperate on the ground in Pakistan. That’s one of the ways we were able to get Osama bin Laden,” Kerry said.
Pakistan, he said, has lost some 6,000 people last year in their efforts to go after terrorists.
“I intend to raise the issue of Dr Afridi with them. I can promise you that. But I am not going to recommend, nor do I think it is wise, for American policy to just cut our assistance (to Pakistan). We need to build our relationship with the Pakistanis, not diminish it,” Kerry said in response to a question.