US freezes $700m aid to Pak as distrust grows
A crisis in relations looked set to deepen, with US lawmakers late Monday agreeing to freeze $700 million in aid to Pakistan until it gives an assurance that it is helping fight the spread of improvised explosive devices (IEDS) in the region. 'US-Pak military ties are a mess' | US senators call for full review of Pak tiesworld Updated: Dec 14, 2011 08:38 IST
A crisis in relations looked set to deepen, with US lawmakers late Monday agreeing to freeze $700 million in aid to Pakistan until it gives an assurance that it is helping fight the spread of improvised explosive devices (IEDS) in the region.
The home-made bombs are made from ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser, smuggled in from Pakistan and are the militants' most effective weapons against foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has received $20 billion in US aid since 2001 and the cutback is only a small portion of it. But it could lead to greater cuts as demands grow in the US to penalise Islamabad for failing to act against terrorists.
"We've had shaky relations lately. We need them, they need us," said House Armed Services Committee chairman Howard McKeon.
"But one of the things that's bothered me in this war in Afghanistan is the loss of life and limb to IEDs."
The aid freeze is part of a larger bill cutting defence expenses, expected to be passed this week.
Ties have steadily gone south after the US raid on a Pakistan town, killing Osama bin Laden in May.
A Nato airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month was a new low point, prompting an angry Islamabad to shut supply lines to troops in the war-torn country.
Though there was no official response from Pakistan, Salim Saifullah Khan, chairman of Pakistan's senate committee on foreign affairs, said, "It is most unfortunate and untimely."
(With agency inputs)