WASHINGTON – Congressman Jerry Lewis warned on the House floor late Wednesday that he may lead efforts to restrict foreign and military aid to Pakistan if concerns surrounding the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound are not resolved in coming weeks.
As Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee and second ranking member on both the defense and foreign operations subcommittees, Lewis said he believes it is time to scrutinize every dollar sent to Pakistan for economic and military aid.
Lewis noted during debate on the Defense Appropriations spending bill that Americans were astonished to learn that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been living in apparent comfort just a short drive north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capitol. The responses that have been received from Pakistan regarding bin Laden have ranged from frustrating to outrageous, Lewis told his colleagues.
“We have asked in vain how this could occur,” Lewis said in his House floor speech. “Rather than help us get to the bottom of how this international criminal could live for years within a few blocks of a military school, we received protests from Pakistani officials that our brave special forces captured and killed bin Laden under their noses.”
The frustration grew even higher after it was reported that Pakistani intelligence officials had taken into custody a number of informers who had worked with U.S. intelligence in pinning down where bin Laden was staying. It has become difficult to even get answers on the status of those informants, he said.
“Until we are convinced that Pakistan is meeting its obligations in the War on Terror, it may be time to withhold funds that should be used only for that purpose,” Lewis told his colleagues. “If we cannot get this assurance, Mr. Chairman, I will be offering amendments of my own to seriously reduce or limit funds we provide to Pakistan. Every dime of our military and foreign aid funds must support our national security, and right now that does not seem to be the case with Pakistan.”