May 5, 2011

Pentagon: No firm evidence of Pakistani complicity

Robert Burns, The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Berman, one of the chief sponsors of a measure providing aid to Pakistan in October 2009, questioned the country's commitment to the fight against insurgents. He also disclosed that Pakistan had diverted several U.S.-refurbished helicopters to Sudan for peacekeeping operations, calling it a "blatant violation of the agreement we concluded with Islamabad." The helicopters were intended for the fight against terrorism.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a supporter of U.S. aid to Pakistan, said today it would be self-defeating to walk away from the relationship.

"Distancing ourselves from Pakistan would be unwise and extremely dangerous," he told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. "It would weaken our intelligence gathering, limit our ability to prevent conflict between India and Pakistan, further complicate military operations in Afghanistan, end cooperation on finding terrorists, and eliminate engagement with Islamabad on the security of its nuclear weapons."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took the same view.

"It's not a time to back away from Pakistan," he said. "Frankly, I believe that our aid should continue to Pakistan."

Lawmakers made clear, however, that Pakistan is on notice.

"It's impossible for me to believe that Pakistan didn't know that he (bin Laden) was there," said freshman Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "If they're not going to be an ally for us in the war on terror, they shouldn't expect to receive foreign aid from us,"

Flournoy predicted that any doubts about bin Laden's death will be erased, even without the U.S. releasing a photo of his corpse.

"In time it will become apparent -- undeniably apparent. I think al-Qaida will recognize that this is in fact the truth (and) and that they will make changes in their own leadership to reflect that truth," she said. "The same people who doubt whether he's dead today would probably look at a photo and doubt whether that's real."

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