WASHINGTON: A US congressional panel has demanded cutting off all US assistance to Pakistan to persuade Islamabad to act against the Afghan Taliban groups allegedly using its territory to launch operations into Afghanistan, a move that Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz says is motivated by “baseless concerns” of “a section of US lawmakers”.
Some US lawmakers and witnesses also suggested declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism and imposing economic sanctions if Islamabad did not eliminate the alleged terrorist safe havens on its territory.
The Tuesday afternoon hearing — “Pakistan: Friend or foe?” — produced more heat than expected and at some points it came close to challenging the country’s very existence as a sovereign state.
More than once Pakistan was called manipulative and accused of treating the United States like chumps.
“They are making chumps out of us. They see us we are being so stupid. It seems like paying the mafia,” said Congressman Matt Salmon, Chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“If I may use an undiplomatic term, we have been patsies,” said former US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad.
Mr Khalilzad, who is an ethnic Afghan, claimed that Pakistani leaders had gamed the American system for decades.
“Patsies chumps. Most Americans see out of this and yet our so-called leaders do not really get it,” said Mr Salmon while endorsing Mr Khalilzad’s views.