Adm. Mullen: Changes in Pakistan aid should not be made to 'save a dollar'

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen urged lawmakers Wednesday to avoid cutting aid to Pakistan, warning that such a move could permanently damage the already chilly relationship between countries.

Since Osama bin Laden was found on Pakistani soil in May, members of Congress from both parties have called for the U.S. to totally sever aid to the nation or slap tough restrictions on the billions Washington sends to Islamabad.

The aid dollars are intended to be in return for Pakistan's cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and other groups inside its borders. But lawmakers, as they and the public grow increasingly tired of the decade-old Afghanistan war, feel the bin Laden discovery shows Washington is getting a poor return on its investment.

Mullen told the Senate Appropriations Committee that any funding changes should be made with an eye toward the “long view,” meaning with an understanding of the big-picture ramifications if the U.S.-Pakistani relationship goes south for good.

He warned against making aid cuts due to a “flush of public passion” or a zeal to merely “save a dollar.”