Pakistanis Distraught Over U.S. Aid

The head of Pakistan's spy agency ISI is meeting with American officials in Washington today. The meeting comes after the U.S. suspended about 800 million dollars of military aid to Pakistan. The countries' relationship has taken a nose dive after the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden. Host Michel Martin gets an update about U.S.-Pakistani relations with NPR Foreign Correspondent Julie McCarthy.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up tomorrow twitter turns five. We'll talk about how that social media tool is having an effect on politics and culture not just in the U.S. but around the world. That conversation is coming up but we want to begin today with news about the very important relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. The head of Pakistan's powerful spy agency known as ISI is in Washington today to meet with U.S. officials.

The meeting comes after the Obama administration suspended about $800 million dollars in military aid to Pakistan. This is roughly a third of the money Pakistan receives from the United States every year. The already complicated relationship between the two countries has become even more tense since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden earlier this year. Members of the Pakistani military are outraged that they were not told about the raid in advance, while Americans were angered to find out that bin Laden was living apparently comfortably inside Pakistan and it reinforced their view that--that countries leaders aren't doing enough to pursue terrorist groups operating from there.

In a few minutes we will discuss all of this with the former president of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf but first though for some context we turn to NPR foreign correspondent Julie McCarthy who joins us from Islamabad. Julie thank you for joining us.

JULIE MCCARTHY: Thank you Michel.

MARTIN: So, Julie why did the Americans cut off this aid to Pakistan and why now?

MCCARTHY: Well, the Americans have been frustrated for some time and they are angry at what they consider to be deceit and slow action in hunting down the militants the U.S. wants Pakistan to go after. Pakistan has been unwilling to hunt militants friendly to the Afghan Taliban. They use Pakistan's tribal areas as a safe haven to launch operations in Afghanistan that kill NATO troops so, of course the United States wants Pakistan to go after them and the United States has been hammering away on this but doesn't have a whole lot to show for it.

And of course as you mentioned Washington is unhappy in the extreme over Osama bin Laden living in Pakistan for five years with virtually no clues from Pakistani's that he was here. The U.S. now thinks that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new al-Qaida leader is also here and it wants these joint coordinated actions. Now, Michel Washington I think is far from giving up on this relationship but it is taking off the gloves in the belief that punitive coercion will work in Pakistan and they might be in for a surprise.

MARTIN: How is this news going down in Pakistan with the military and with the public at large?

MCCARTHY: Well, the military is angry but it seems to be taking it in it's stride. I mean, it's response has been measured but firm. It says you know we're not doing any u-turns here. We're certainly not allowing sort of freelance CIA operations, a la Osama bin Laden's capture and killing. But for the average citizen, Michel, the belief here is that the army simply has too many resources as it is, but this whole question of aid for the public is a really fraught one.

A lot of people here don't want to take a dime from the United States. Their hostility against the U.S. - it's wars, it's sole superpower status really irks them and a lot of people feel that the U.S. doesn't begin to acknowledge the sacrifices that Pakistani's make everyday in the terrorism that has crept over their country because of wars next door in Afghanistan that they say are not of their making.

They see Afghanistan as a U.S. war that has spilled over into Pakistan and radicalized their society.

MARTIN: NPR's Julie McCarthy joined us from Islamabad. Julie, thank you so much joining us.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

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