Politics

U.S. Releases $1.6B to Pakistan Despite Government Shutdown Over Budget

| by Dominic Kelly

Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of middle class federal employees were unable to work and get paid while the government was shut down for over two weeks because Congress couldn’t pass a budget, the elected lawmakers somehow found it in the budget to quietly send $1.6 billion to Pakistan to help them out.

The United States has reportedly been sending military and economic aid to Pakistan for a while, but the assistance was reportedly stopped due to bad blood after the Osama Bin Laden raid and a number of US air strikes against Pakistani soldiers.

Now, just days before new Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is set to visit the White House for talks, the US has resumed sending money to the country. Officials say the aid should begin being disbursed to Pakistan early next year.

"Funding was notified to Congress following a rigorous planning process over multiple months, to ensure it was in line with both US and Pakistani interests, and would deliver important results for both countries," said spokesman for the State Department Marie Harf.

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Reports show that this past summer, Congress was informed by the State Department that it planned to resume aid to Pakistan. They feel that it is a necessary thing to do because it will help Pakistan fight terrorism while troops are returning home from neighboring Afghanistan next year.

"Pakistan's long-term stability is of critical national security interest to the U.S.,” said Dan Feldman, deputy special representative for the State Department, “so we remain committed to helping achieve a more secure, democratic and prosperous state, including through continued civilian and military assistance.”

Pakistani leaders have reportedly pushed hard for the money to be released to their country. $1.6 billion seems like a lot, but government officials say that it’s only a small portion of the U.S. aid package.

A lot of the federal employees who were unable to work during the government shutdown are probably wishing that $1.6 billion could have gone to paying their salaries instead of being sent to another country.