Should We Cut off Aid to Pakistan? Allen West Says Yes, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Says No Way
The Pakistani government and military is facing tough criticism after Osama bin Laden was found living rather comfortably in a large city in their country just minutes from Pakistan's top military training academy. Rep. Allen West of Broward and Palm Beach, ever the reactionary Republican, is leading calls to potentially cut off aid to the country. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Relations, however says that's a dangerous idea that could put our troops at risk.
Here's an excerpt of Allen's letter to congress in which he calls for potentially cutting aid to Pakistan:
I think it is quite clear that unless we get a clear explanation of what the Government of Pakistan knew about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, all foreign aid from American taxpayers to this nation needs to cease. We need to understand whether the Government of Pakistan was harboring Osama bin Laden for all these years. Further, did the Government of Pakistan always know where this terrorist was but instead did not want to bring him to justice in order to continue to receive foreign aid from the United States of America.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Miami Republican who yields far greater influence on these matters due to her committee chairmanship, says that such a move could potentially put West's fellow serviceman in danger.
"They are an imperfect partner, but they are a partner nonetheless," she told The Miami Herald . "Were we to lose the cooperation of Pakistan, it would endanger our troops in Afghanistan."
Ros-Lehtinen also says that the American government may be downplaying the amount of cooperation Pakistan actually had in the mission.
"Were they to say that they let a U.S. military operation take place in their sovereign country ... it might produce a coup d'etat," she said. "They have so many extremist elements and radical elements that they can't afford to say they cooperate with the U.S. in any way....I think it would jeopardize the government's ability to stay in power."
Speaker John Boehner has also come out in favor of keeping ties with Pakistan, so it's unlikely West's stance will go anywhere.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.