Skepticism abounds over whether Congress' freezing over $700 million in aid to Pakistan will have any real effect in stopping the rampant bomb-building on both sides of its borders. A Congressional panel decided on the cuts on Monday night and vowed not to reinstate the aid "until it gets assurances that Islamabad is helping fight the spread of homemade bombs," MSBC reports. By Tuesday both Pakistani officials and American experts were questioning the decision. Though Pakistan remains an American ally, critics worry that the cuts will only serve to further erode the state diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan's next-door neighbor. (Jeffrey Goldberg and Marc Ambinder dubbed Pakistan "The Ally from Hell" in The Atlantic's latest magazine cover.)
"Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid and the cutback announced is only a small proportion of the billions in civil and military assistance it gets each year," Reuters' Qasim Nauman and Augustine Anthony wrote on Tuesday afternoon. "But it could presage even greater cuts." Nevertheless, it's going to take more than money (or the withholding thereof) to stop terrorists from building bombs, thanks to Pakistan's loose border security. As one businessman explained to Reuters, "We pay a 1,200-rupee ($13) bribe to the Pakistani Frontiers Corps on the border for every car carrying Fertilizer. Fertilizer is smuggled on trucks, pickup trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and donkey carts." Oh, and nuclear weapons too.