According to a report in The Washington Post, Representative Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and other U.S lawmakers received financial contributions from pro-Pakistan lobbyists who were being funded by the Pakistani military, including by its infamous Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In return, Pitts and other Pak-paid congressman, including Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana, and Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio were being asked by the ISI men in Washington to promote the Pakistani position on Kashmir, the border region claimed by Pakistan and India.
It seems that Pitts and the other lawmakers ended up delivering the goods to their paymasters. Hence, a few days after he had received $2,000 campaign contribution from the Pakistani lobbyists, Pitts introduced a resolution in 2004 which, reflecting Islamabad’s stance, called for a more activist U.S. role in resolving the dispute over Kashmir.
The FBI has charged that two U.S. citizens of Pakistani descent, who used a nonprofit Washington group known as the Kashmiri American Council to carry their lobbying efforts, were unregistered agents of the government of Pakistan. The Post reported that the FBI estimated that the ISI poured at least $4 million into the campaign contributions and the other public relations and lobbying handled by the two agents for Pakistan.
American taxpayers send annually more than $2 billion in security assistance to our “ally” Pakistan (and more than $20 billion in combined military and nonmilitary assistance to Islamabad since 9/11), which goes directly to the coffers of the Pakistani military, including the ISI. The ISI, according to mounting evidence, has been colluding with militant groups operating on its territory and attacking U.S. armed forces and our allies in Afghanistan including Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, (not to mention the allegations that some elements in the ISI were helping to shield Osama bin Ladin in a house located a few blocks from the leading Pakistani military academy).
More recently, Admiral Mike Mullen recently said that Pakistan’s army or the ISI likely killed journalist Saleem Shahzad, who had reported about militants infiltrating the military.
And now we learn that some of the American taxpayer money that goes to support a Pakistani military — that is in cahoots with insurgents that kill American soldiers in Afghanistan (whose leader wants us out of his country) and also murders Pakistani journalists — is directing some of this US dollars to help elect American lawmakers that could be relied on to vote in favor of more financial assistant to the Pakistani military. Want all of this to sound even more absurd? Well, the same lawmakers who are not going to raise the debt ceiling until the government starts cutting spending big time and balance the budget continue approving billions of U.S. dollars in assistance to Pakistan.
Indeed, on Thursday the House Foreign Affairs Committee blocked an amendment to a spending bill that would have banned any assistance to Pakistan. Thirty-nine lawmakers rejected and only five supported the measure introduced by Dana Rohrabacher, Republican from California who described as “foolishness” the idea of continuing to send U.S. finds to Pakistan while Washington is trying to avoid default on its debt.
“The time has come for us to stop subsidizing those who actively oppose us. Pakistan has shown itself not to be America’s ally,” Rohrabacher said when he introduced the defunding amendment.
Makes a lot of sense — but expect the level of military aid to Pakistan to remain the same and to even see an increase in the five-year, $7.5 billion U.S. civilian assistance package approved in 2009 that is supposed to strengthen democracy – which the Pakistani military is undermining — and reduce the appeal of the Islamists – to which the Pakistani military is lending a helping hand.
So here is an idea for Representative Eric Cantor and other Republican House members who want to balance the budget by cutting spending on wasteful government programs. How about putting our money where your mouth is and eliminate the U.S. welfare program for the Pakistani military?