US lawmaker urges no cash for Pakistanis
A key US lawmaker on Wednesday urged a halt to an aid program for flood victims in Pakistan in the wake of revelations that slain Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin laden lived there unperturbed for years.
Republican Representative Kay Granger, who chairs a key committee with oversight over foreign assistance, pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to shelve nearly $200 million in "cash payments" to Pakistan agencies.
"My opposition to the program has only been heightened by the discovery of the most notorious terrorist in the world living hundreds of yards from a Pakistani military installation for more than five years," said Granger.
"This reinforces my greater concern that the government may be incapable of distributing US funds in a transparent manner that allows proper oversight of taxpayer dollars," the lawmaker said in a letter to Clinton.
Granger said the weekend raid that saw bin Laden die at the hands of US special forces and revealed he lived in a fortified compound not far from Pakistan's capital had left "immense uncertainty" about bilateral ties.
At issue was a plan to provide $190 million of US assistance for victims of devastating floods in Pakistan through a special compensation fund that would give them debit cards to rebuild their homes.
Granger said US taxpayers "would be appalled" to hear of the program and warned she would "not be able to defend this program" to her Texas constituents, charging the administration had denied federal disaster relief for her home state in the wake of wildfires that torched some 400 homes.
Her comments came as a chorus of US lawmakers called for reevaluating US-Pakistan ties -- and notably aid from cash-strapped Washington -- in the wake of the bin Laden revelations.