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Lawmakers question U.S. support of Pakistani counter-terror programs

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The United States has given Pakistan roughly $18 billion in aid since 2002. Most of it’s been spent on helping the Pakistanis with counter-terrorism and development. But since Osama bin Laden’s death, American lawmakers have been questioning whether the financial assistance should continue.

The BBC’s Lesley Curwen reports.

LESLEY CURWEN: The chill in political relations between the U.S. and Pakistan is worrying the Pakistani business community, even though U.S. financial aid contributes very little to Pakistan’s GDP.

Kamran Mizra is the chief executive of the Pakistan Business Council. He says right now, the impact for businesses is mostly psychological.

KAMRAN MIZRA: You know U.S. is the world’s only super-power. We’ve always had good relations with them. And there’s a lot of history to it. So there is a general discomfort about the situation and business are also feeling that strain.

Mizra says there was a similar situation after 9/11 but that eventually the economy rebounded.

For many western companies, though, doing business in Pakistan is still high risk because of the security threat. But Mizra says these problems are minor compared to infrastructure issues — especially insufficient power.

He says U.S. aid would be better spent on developing the Pakistani economy by investing in the private sector — rather than giving money directly to the government.

In London, I’m the BBC’s Lesley Curwen for Marketplace.

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