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Senator Levin Questions Aid Package to Pakistan

12:59 PM, Feb 27, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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As Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar push a 10 year, $15 billion non-military aid package for Pakistan as well as a one-time aid package estimated between $4 and $5 billion, Senator Carl Levin has questioned the wisdom of such a move. The Press Trust of India reports:

An influential US Senator has questioned the commitment and willingness of Islamabad to take head on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and charged the official machinery in Pakistan of providing crucial assistance to its leaders.

"For many reasons, I question whether Pakistan has the political will or the capability to take on the Taliban and other militants. Evidence of their unwillingness or inability to do so has been clear and longstanding," said Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Levin, who convened a hearing on "Strategic Options for the Way Ahead in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said there have been reports for some that the Afghan Taliban council meets in Quetta and from there plans attacks in southern Afghanistan.

"The militant Baitullah Mehsud, suspected of orchestrating the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, holds an open press conference in South Waziristan," he pointed out. "To make matters worse, the Pakistan government inflames opposition to the United States with their strong public criticism of our air strikes," Levin charged.

At the Times of India, Chidanand Rajghatta notes that billions have gone missing, but the tap may soon be turned back on.

US government reports in recent times have detailed how Pakistan has misused billions in aid for a military build-up against India instead of using it for the intended war on terror. Audits have also detailed million of dollars in fraudulent claims by the Pakistani military. Reimbursement to Pakistan have been halted for several months because of this but are set to resume soon after the Obama administration has given a green signal pending further audits.

He also notes that "the proposed aid is not contingent on Islamabad living up to any benchmarks." Considering that Congress was insistent on having benchmarks to judge Iraq's political and security progress, this omission is curious, to say the least.