Last night, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-Calif) amendment to cut funding for Pakistan was soundly defeated 84-335. As with Rohrabacher’s bill supporting the balkanization of Pakistan, though, it was unlikely that this proposal would go anywhere to begin with.
After Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan last year, House members contemplated a number of measures that would have cut aid to Pakistan. Two amendments proposing to cut aid to Pakistan were defeated, however, as lawmakers decided that cutting aid would be in neither country’s interests.
Still, Pakistan and its representatives in the US did not take it for granted that Rohrabacher’s amendment would meet the same fate. Pakistan’s Ambassador, Sherry Rehman, was seen working the Hill late Thursday, explaining Pakistan’s position to Members of Congress. After 8pm, the Pakistani Ambassador Tweeted that she had been working the Hill until the vote was assured.
Writing for the blog “emptywheel”, Jim White makes an astute observation:
“…the Pakistani government is not a monolith that always acts with all of its participants working together for the same outcome. Rather than supporting those within Pakistan who will advance US interests, Rohrabacher wants to punish all of Pakistan because of those who work against US interests.
Using aid as part of a “carrots and sticks” approach to Pakistan has failed in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. It’s a strategy that fails because it feeds anti-American narratives at the expense of moderate, democratic forces in civil society. US lawmakers recognize this, as was demonstrated by Sen. McCain’s acknowledgement earlier this week that “one of the gravest mistakes in recent history was the so-called Pressler Amendment” which cut off aid to Pakistan in the 1990s, resulting in the “trust deficit” that continues to plague US-Pakistan relations.
Officials from both countries will travel to Chicago this weekend to continue critical discussions around bilateral cooperation on issues of national security. The defeat of Rep. Rohrabacher’s amendment ensures that these discussions will not be burdened by the repetition of past mistakes.