The United States may be struggling under the burden of ever-growing debt, but quitting payments to Pakistan is the wrong move, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday.
"There are few recipients of foreign aid that attract more opposition in Congress than Pakistan," John R. Bolton said during an appearance on Fox News, referring to ongoing U.S. suspicions that the nation's leaders actually hid Osama bin Laden for a time, and that the government imprisoned a doctor who aided with the CIA's tracking of the terror leader.
But cutting off the roughly $1.67 billion in aid that currently flows from U.S. taxpayers to Pakistani officials is not the solution, Mr. Bolton said.
"You also have to weigh … [that] if we didn't support this government, the government could fall to Pakistani radicals," he said.
The larger issue, Mr. Bolton said, is preventing terrorists from wresting control of the country's 60 to 100 nuclear weapons that could deploy to the U.S. Turning the admittedly chaotic Pakistan-U.S. relations into something colder could prove a sizable security issue, he said.
"There are times you have to grit your teeth," he said of the need to keep paying the nation even as Russia and India came out Tuesday with a united call for the shutdown of Pakistani's jihad camps.
There is "no doubt the Pakistani government itself is divided and does support jihadis against [India]," Mr. Bolton told Fox News. "But it's looking at the bigger picture."
Pakistan's large cache of nuclear weapons "could really ruin your day if it got into the wrong hands," he said.
While he agreed some foreign assistance could definitely be trimmed, Mr. Bolton dismissed the notion of cutting foreign aid to Pakistan to help ailing cities in the U.S.
"I wouldn't spend any federal money rescuing Detroit and other cities that have spend themselves into bankruptcy," he said. "We shouldn't kid ourselves. We've got interests around the world that need protecting. It would be a mistake to think you can just eliminate it and not have an adverse effect on America's interests in the world."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.