US lawmakers oppose arms sale to Pakistan

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Hindustan Times): US lawmakers on Wednesday used very strong language to oppose the sale of armament to Pakistan, arguing it cannot be trusted because of its continued support for terrorism.

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One lawmaker called the country a “snitch” in the context of why the US didn’t inform Pakistan before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011.

Another member called Pakistan a “Benedict Arnold” ally, referencing an American general who switched sides during the War of Independence to join the British.

They were at a hearing of the US House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee called to review counter-terrorism ties with Pakistan in the light of the San Bernardino shootings. Tashfeen Malik and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, both of Pakistani origin, shot and killed 14 people in the attack.

“I doubt that anyone who follows Pakistan closely was surprised to learn that one of the San Bernardino attackers — Tashfeen Malik — studied at a Pakistani school spreading a particularly fundamentalist message,” committee chairman Ed Royce said in his opening remarks.

Announcing the hearing last week, the committee said it would look at US aid to Pakistan — $30 billion since September 11, 2001, according to a lawmaker.

The Obama administration proposes to sell eight new F-16 jets to Pakistan — each worth an estimated $165 million — and is due to formally notify Congress about it any day now.

Ted Poe, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, opposed the sale at the hearing, saying Pakistan had scrambled its F-16s after the Abbottabad raid.

A raid, Poe said, about which the US did not give Pakistan an advance warning, as they would “snitch us off and Osama bin Laden would have left.”

“We need to be very concerned about providing armaments for Pakistan who seems to play all the sides,” he added.

Dana Rohrabacher, another Republican member of the House used Benedict Arnold to portray Pakistan as an untrustworthy ally completely undeserving of American aid.

“The clique that runs that country is treating us like suckers and they should,” he said, “because . . . we are giving people money who have continually involved themselves in acts harmful” to the US.

The lawmakers expressed concern about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is expected to become the world’s third largest by 2025, according to a recent study.

TNS

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