Can't give Pak 'blank cheque', says US

Can't give Pak 'blank cheque', says US

Can't give Pak 'blank cheque', says US

"We have to show that this is a two-way street, not just a one-way street. They have some obligations," Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said. "They've got to help us be able to go after some of the targets we've assigned them; they've got to be able to give us their cooperation," he said.

"And they've got to know that we're not going to give out a blank cheque until they show that this is a two-way relationship," Panetta told NBC News yesterday when asked about suspension of the USD 800 million of military aid to Pakistan.

He said Pakistan is a country where al-Qaeda has found safe haven. "We're fighting al-Qaeda in their country. Strategically, they're an important country, particularly because they have nuclear arms. So for all those reasons, we've got to maintain the relationship," he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her part, said Pakistan must take certain steps which the US has often outlined to ensure the delivery of American military assistance to Islamabad.

"The government of Pakistan must take certain steps, and we have outlined those steps on more than one occasion, to ensure that we can deliver all the military assistance that the United States has discussed with Pakistan," she said.

Clinton said the US decision to pause delivery of this portion of security assistance does not signify a shift in its policy but underscores the fact that bilateral partnership depends on cooperation.

"That's always been the case and it must continue to be so in the future," she told reporters when asked why the US had suspended the USD 800-million military aid to Pakistan. Separately, Pentagon spokesperson Col Dave Lapan said the US would continue to hold back its military aid to Pakistan till the time Islamabad goes full throttle in the war against terror.

"(The delay is) directly tied to those decisions by the Pakistani military to curtail training and to not grant visas for some of the US personnel that we need to get in. If those things change, then this aid will change as well," he said.

The aid amount is about one-third of the total US military aid to Pakistan this year. While the full list of delayed aid items was being classified, Lapan said "it includes explosive ordnance disposal support and apparatus, small arms, ammunition, helicopter spare parts, radios and equipment to counter explosive devices."

Acknowledging that the trust between the two nations has strained over the years and by recent events, in particular after the killing of Osama bin Laden, he said an agreement to resume aid would be "a matter of rebuilding that trust...."

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland also said the US could not have continued with certain categories of military aid to Pakistan at a time when American trainers, who deliver on the assistance, were being asked to leave the country.

The Obama administration, however, asserted that there was no change in its civilian aid to Pakistan.
Contradicting Pakistani army's statement that it was not notified about suspension of aid, Nuland said the administration had been in constant contact with Islamabad about these issues throughout.

Top US lawmakers have, meanwhile, supported the Obama administration's decision to suspend the USD-800 million military aid to Pakistan, terming it as something that was "long overdue". They have been demanding cut in the aid to Pakistan, insisting that Islamabad was a reluctant partner in the war against terrorism.

"While it is important for us to maintain relations with Pakistan, the administration's decision to temporarily suspend roughly USD 800 million in military assistance, is the right one," Bob Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.