Gen. Dempsey: Senate right to cut Pakistan aid

Gen. Martin Dempsey, President Obama’s top military adviser, said Monday that Senate lawmakers made the right call by voting to trim aid to Pakistan.

“I think . . . choices should result in consequences. And I think the Senate acted appropriately,” said Dempsey, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking on NBC.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to cut $33 million for Pakistan, or $1 million for each year of a prison sentence given to Shakil Afridi, a doctor who helped the CIA locate al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

It's a small fraction of U.S. aid to the country but nonetheless highlights tensions in the relationship.

In addition to that cut, the Senate Armed Service Committee voted to fence in $250 million in military aid until Pakistan reopens supply routes to Afghanistan to NATO traffic, ceases its support for Islamic militants and stops detaining citizens — a veiled reference to the sentencing of Afridi.

Dempsey, in the interview, was not asked about specific spending cuts, but instead was questioned broadly about the decision to "withdraw some funding" from Pakistan.

Asked if the U.S. relationship with Pakistan has ever been worse, Dempsey replied: "not in my experience." But he also cautioned that there was a need for the two nations to repair relations, noting the strategic importance of Pakistan.

“Pakistan is an important country in the region and globally. And so we need to work through the relationship,” he said, according to a transcript.

The Senate appropriators’ plan would provide $800 million for Pakistan next fiscal year, which is far below what the Obama administration is seeking. 

Click here and here for more of The Hill’s coverage of aid to Pakistan.