The “Land of the Pure” has become our billion-dollar headache.
Allegiance isn’t for sale, but that hasn’t stopped Uncle Sam from shelling out $20 billion in our taxes to Pakistan since 9-11 in a desperate bid to bribe the nuclear Islamic republic into cooperating with the War on Terror, and wean it off its widespread ties to militant groups. Last year, we set aside approximately $1.2 billion in economic aid for it, and in the next few years we’re expected to fork over more than $1.5 billion annually under the wasteful Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.
The heaping handouts — $20 billion could have educated nearly two million public school children — have reaped rotten returns.
Pakistan — created in 1947 as a homeland for Muslims living in British India — remains corruptly uncommitted to investing in its government, its economic and political stability, its people, and its moral obligation to world peace. Most of the country is underdeveloped, around half of its population is illiterate, it’s a jihadist’s crossroads, and only 211 miles of highway exist in a nation twice the size of California. Dark-age sanitation and water services there cause nearly half of all illnesses, resulting in the deaths of 200,000 children every year due to diarrheal diseases, while power shortages cripple commercial hubs for more than 10 hours a day, prompting the question: Where the hell is the money going?
Pakistan’s beggaring is a national embarrassment.
“The incumbent government, instead of pursing policies to help the country stand on its own feet, relies almost exclusively on International Monetary Fund loans and different sorts of foreign aid,” reports the Pakistan Observer.
Its appeal to terrorists is dangerously magnetic, too.
State-sanctioned extremist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Muhammad, and the Harakat ul-Mujahadeen, contributed to 2,654 civilian deaths from January 2010 to May 2011, and more than 26 terrorist attacks happened weekly in Pakistan last year, reports the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. Beyond disturbing is a Pew Research Center survey released last month, revealing that nearly half of Pakistani Muslims approve of al Qaeda.
Pakistan’s blind eye to terrorism is reflected in its ex-pats around the world. They’re too busy arguing about their civil rights in the western nations which have been their salvation, instead of decrying Pakistani terrorists like Faisal Shahzad who tried — unsuccessfully — to blow up Times Square.
More proof of Pakistan’s anti-Americanism can be found in the case of Shakil Afridi, the physician who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden last year, only to be slapped with a 33-year jail sentence last month. Pakistan’s attitude is also palpable in its failure to punish a single person for assisting bin Laden, and ignoring international conjecture that its military and spy agency knew that the world’s most-wanted terrorist was holed up in a compound a stone’s toss away from the national officer training academy.
It’s apparent to even the casual observer that Pakistan is a career con artist with zero interest in catching the bad guys. Congress should toss a shoe at it — after halting the gravy train.Shavana Abruzzo's column appears every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail her at sabruzzo@c