Levin: No U.S. Aid Until Pakistan Takes On Al-Qaida

Tuesday, 31 Mar 2009 11:18 AM

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WASHINGTON - Pakistan must prove it is willing to take on extremists within its own borders before the U.S. delivers financial aid or weapons to the government there, a key senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he does not believe the United States can buy stability in Pakistan.

And he said he'd support economic and military aid only after he sees that the Pakistani government understands that it is in its own interest to battle its internal insurgent threats. So far, he said he is not convinced.

"If I thought we could buy stability, I would buy it," the Michigan Democrat told reporters during a breakfast meeting. "I have no reluctance in purchasing stability if it's effective. But I don't think its effective unless the recipient of the support sees where the threat is to them. I think otherwise it can backfire."

Levin's stance signals some difficulties for the Obama administration's plans to provide at least $1.5 billion in aid to Pakistan.

President Barack Obama endorsed the aid last week as he unveiled his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, but he also cautioned that the U.S. will not write a blank check to the Pakistani government.

Levin said that Pakistan has not displayed the political will to go after extremists, and instead is more inclined to try and buy peace "with people I don't think you can buy peace with."

At the same time, Levin condemned NATO nations for failing to provide the funding and troops needed to wage the Afghanistan war, saying the allies' performance has been "nothing short of pitiful."

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