Kirk backing off support of aid to Pakistan

September 6, 2011

Download Story

Illinois' two U.S. Senators are arguing about how much financial support the U.S. should send to Pakistan.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk made a policy speech Tuesday at the Union League Club, proposing a new warning against Pakistan.

"I think that we should rethink assistance to Pakistan, that it's naïve at best and counterproductive at worst," Kirk said.

It's a reversal for Kirk, who earlier this year cautioned against cutting aid to Pakistan. He just got back from a trip to Afghanistan and said the Pakistani government supports a group of terrorists called the Haqqani network. Pakistan's government has reportedly denied those claims.

Kirk said if relations don't improve, the U.S. could get additional help from India, a heated rival of Pakistan.

But Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin disagrees.

"I will tell you that I think that would be cataclysmic," Durbin told reports Tuesday at an unrelated news conference when asked by reporters what he thought of bringing India into talks with Pakistan.

Durbin defended supporting the Pakistani government in fighting terrorism, saying the U.S. government gives a limited amount of money to the country. Spokesmen for Durbin and Kirk says the U.S. has given Pakistan $22 billion in the last decade.