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On Thursday, the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Lawmakers from both parties are grappling with whether to continue providing aid to the country used by Osama bin Laden as a hideout.
U.S. Lawmakers on Thursday (May 5) debated whether they should attach more strings to the billions of dollars in aid they give Pakistan, or cut off aid entirely. It comes after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found not far from the capital Islamabad.
Congress has approved $20 billion in aid over the past decade for Pakistan, making it one of the biggest U.S. aid recipients. About half of the money was to reimburse Pakistan for their help in fighting terrorists.
The latest installment of more than $2 billion in military aid was approved just three weeks ago. Congress also provided for more non-military aid to Pakistan, which could top $1 billion.
Some lawmakers are now demanding a halt to the aid after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, a military town less than 40 miles from the capital.
In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Chris Coons said the U.S. would have to rethink relations with Pakistan.
[Chris Coons, U.S. Senator, Delaware]:
"Obviously these events that we've all been speaking about have raised some real troubling questions for the folks we represent. At best, the ISI was unable to detect bin Laden's presence, at worst was complicit in providing him safe haven, probably for six years and in either way, it then challenges us to recalibrate our relationship."
The U.S. government has worked with Pakistan for years to get rid of militant sanctuaries in the country. But Senator Ben Cardin said the U.S. must be prepared to cut aid to Pakistan.