Pakistan is used to being under scrutiny from the United States because of their efforts in the war on terror. The country often gets accused of helping hide terrorists or aiding them in their efforts. They always deny they have any involvement with members of al Qaeda and did not know where Osama bin Laden was hiding. Sunday’s raid on bin Laden’s compound, located some 70 miles north of the seat of government, leaves a lot of explaining. To plead his case, President Asif Ali Zardari, husband of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, is enlisting a lobbying firm.
Pakistan employs the firm of Locke Lord Strategies with Mark Siegel pleading their case. The lobbying firm receives $75,000 a month to represent Pakistan’s interests on Capitol Hill, which includes receiving almost $1.3 billion in federal aid each year. After bin Laden died out so close to the Pakistani Capitol, members of congress are questioning how it was possible. They also want to withhold aid to the country until it gets satisfactory answers.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Sub Committee on Foreign Aid is looking to conduct a review of the aid Pakistan receives from the U.S. Leahy believes officials in the middle eastern country knew bin Laden was hiding in plain sight. “It’s impossible for them not to have some idea he was there,” Leahy said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, also has some tough questions. “I think this tells us once again that, unfortunately, Pakistan at times is playing a double game,” Collins said.
She went on to say, “It is very difficult for me to understand how this huge compound could be built in a city just an hour north of the capital of Pakistan, in a city that contained military installations, including the Pakistani military academy, and that it did not arouse tremendous suspicions.” But Mark Siegel takes a different view.
Siegel contends the Pakistani government knew nothing about bin Laden living in the million-dollar compound and any statement to the contrary is pure speculation. He also says that when officials say the government must have known the leader of al Qaeda was hiding in Abbottabad, “Must have known doesn’t mean knew.”
Locke Lord Strategies and Mark Siegel have worked for the country since 2008 and earned roughly $2 million since that time. Siegel is working hard to earn that money since he’s been on the hill everyday since bin Laden’s death, trying to convince congress not to close the spigot. He’s got a tough road ahead.
It is an important issue to look at. The United States considers Pakistan an ally in the war on terror. The U.S. is sending billions of dollars to the Muslim country to help train and aid in their efforts to find terrorist and end terrorism. If the most wanted terrorist in the world can live within a two hours drive of the capitol, how effective is their intelligence, and how is the money spent?
(Photo Source: WikiCommons)