'We give them a lot of money and they turn that money around and that goes to the bad guys that kill not only folks in America and Afghanistan, but you in India,' says United States Congressman Ted Poe. Aziz Haniffa reports.
United States Congressman Ted Poe has never been once to mince words. He always kicks off his remarks with the warning that 'I am no diplomat and I am going to be blunt.'
It was no surprise then that this is exactly what he did at the first-ever Republican Indian American meet up on Capitol Hill, when he thundered to loud laughter, whoops and applause, that it was high time for the United States of America to forsake Pakistan and not provide Islamabad with any American aid at all because "We don't need to pay Pakistan to hate us -- they will do it for free."
Poe, who heads the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, said, "Pakistan is not a friend of the United States. Did you know that? That may shock you!"
"They are a disloyal ally. I call them the Benedict Arnold ally," he said, referring to the notorious traitor of the American war for independence, and complained, "We give them a lot of money and they turn that money around and that goes to the bad guys that kill not only folks in America and Afghanistan, but you (India) got problems with Pakistan and how they spend their money as well (meaning to fund terrorism against India)."
"They are not a friend of the United States," Poe reiterated. "I hate to shock you with this news."
He believed, "the United States, personally, shouldn't be giving money to Pakistan."
Poe pointed out that last year "the House of Representatives cut military aid for legislation I proposed, in half. But it was put back in by the Senate and so once again Pakistan keeps getting money."
"My opinion is that the United States should redirect its national security interests in partnership away from Pakistan and to the stable democracy in the area, which happens to be India," Poe added.
The Republican Congressman from Texas made a strong pitch for selling natural gas to India, and slammed bureaucrats at the Department of Energy for throwing a spanner in the works by delaying permits for companies that want to do so even though the Indians have expressed much interest.
When he visited India last year, Poe said, "All they wanted to talk about was natural gas from Texas."
"We can produce natural gas, we can ship it to India, we can make a profit in the United States and we can still deliver it to India for 20 percent less than what they are paying for it now," he said.
Poe complained, "It's not happening as fast as it could, thanks to the bureaucracy at the Washington end. We have too many regulations, bureaucrats, taking their time to approve the permits. We want to speed that up."
Image: US Congressman Ted Poe. Photograph: Richard Carson/Reuters