Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State that U.S. should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language

Aid cut to Pakistan won’t be in US interest: Kerry

During the hearing Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State for broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language.

“There’s probably no more important country than Pakistan and nothing more important than our public outreach to the Pakistani people, yet we’re broadcasting only in Urdu. This committee voted overwhelmingly that we should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting in the Sindhi language,” he said.

Washington – Secretary of State John Kerry fought back a determined attempt by an anti-Pakistan lawmaker demanding cutoff of American aid to the South Asian country in a Congressional panel on Wednesday, saying such a move would not be in US interest.

“Well, you know the old saying, about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Cutting off aid to Pakistan would not be a good move, certainly, at this point in time, for a lot of different reasons,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We are working with Pakistan with respect to nuclear weapons safety and non-proliferation. We are working with Pakistan to get our supplies both in and out of Afghanistan,” he said.

Kerry was responding to a question by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who has been campaigning for cutoff of aid to pressure Islamabad into releasing Dr Shakil Afridi who ran a fake vaccination programme in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

“Pakistan,” Kerry pointed out, “has lost perhaps 50,000 people in the last years to terror…” as Rohrabacher repeatedly interrupted the secretary of state, calling Dr Afridi an “American hero.” Kerry was testifying before the Committee on the Obama Administration’s request for 2014 budget. Pakistan is expected to receive $ 1.2 billion in economic and military assistance in the new fiscal year. The verbal duel between Kerry and Rohrabacher marked the secretary of state’s appearance in the committee in support of his proposals for the next fiscal year. Rohrabacher said, “They’ve given safe haven — they are the terrorists’ friends, and here we are trying to give them millions of dollars, and they have ended up giving some of our aid to terrorists who are killing us, and the guy who tried to save us is languishing away in a dungeon.”

“Shame on us — not you, Mr Secretary — shame on us if we ignore Dr Afridi just languishing away in a dungeon for our benefit…” Kerry said, “We’re not — Congressman, we’re not — we’re not ignoring Dr Afridi at all. Believe me, this discussion we have — and it goes on, but it’s just not as simple — it’s just not as simple.” Asked by another lawmaker about his perspective on India’s role in Afghanistan, Kerry said New Delhi can play an important role but at the same time pointed out implications of a complicated circle between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

“I’ve always believed in — because of their democracy, because of their tradition, there are great reasons for us to partner with India in many significant ways. But India and Pakistan obviously have a very different relationship. And so it’s a very complicated circle between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.”

He also noted that the extent of Indian presence in Afghanistan, affects Islamabad’s views. “How much India’s in Afghanistan affects Pakistan’s views, and they each have a capacity to see bad things happening depending on what the other does. So we have to work at that diligently.”

In his prepared statement for the testimony, Secretary Kerry noted that Washington’s “anti- terrorism assistance funding has helped the lives of hundreds of people in places like Pakistan, India, Lebanon, by training local law enforcement to detect and neutralise explosive devices and help us interdict plots before they come to our shores.”

“Our 2014 budget request maintains our commitments to advancing peace, security and stability in places where all three can be very scarce commodities.”

On Afghanistan, Kerry informed the panel that Washington and Kabul are continuing their negotiations on a bilateral security agreement on future engagement with that country, where US-led forces will end combat mission in 2014. “Well, they’re proceeding. I think they’re going effectively. I had a very good meeting with President (Hamid) Karzai (of Afghanistan) a few weeks ago. I think he is well-disposed to want to finalise that agreement. I think it’s in everybody’s interests to do so. I have confidence that that will happen.” During the hearing Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State for broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language.

“There’s probably no more important country than Pakistan and nothing more important than our public outreach to the Pakistani people, yet we’re broadcasting only in Urdu. This committee voted overwhelmingly that we should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting in the Sindhi language,” he said.

Courtesy: The Nation
http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/19-Apr-2013/aid-cut-to-pakistan-won-t-be-in-us-interest-kerry

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