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Updated: July 22, 2011 01:37 IST

Bid to end U.S. aid to Pakistan rejected

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Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. File photo
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. File photo

A U.S. Congress panel on Thursday rejected a proposal to cut off all aid to Pakistan owing to concerns over the country's relationship with Islamist militants after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee easily rejected the measure, with five lawmakers voting “yes” and 39 voting “no”. But the bill in its current form would still impose tighter controls over aid, making it contingent on measurable progress by Pakistan.

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, had offered the amendment to a spending bill for the year starting in October that would have barred any U.S. funds to provide assistance to Pakistan.

Mr. Rohrabacher raised questions about how Pakistan was using assistance from the United States at a time when Washington was seeking to curb spending to tame a ballooning debt.

President Barack Obama's administration recently suspended about one-third of its $2.7-billion annual defence aid to Pakistan. But it has assured Islamabad it is committed to a five-year, $7.5-billion civilian package approved in 2009 that aims to build schools, infrastructure and democratic institutions.

The rival Republican Party controls the House and has drafted a measure, which remains in the spending bill, which would also cut off civilian aid unless Pakistan is certified to be fighting militants.

But even if the bill passes through the committee, the measure's prospects are uncertain. Mr. Obama's Democratic Party controls the Senate, where Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry is a staunch advocate of civilian support to Pakistan.

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