WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump has expressed support for a senator’s proposal to end all aid to Pakistan and use that money to fund infrastructure projects in the US.
Trump’s backing for Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s upcoming bill contradicts earlier statements by the State Department, which denied that suspended aid to that South Asian country would be allocated elsewhere.
“Good idea Rand!” Trump tweeted late Friday in response to a Twitter video post by Paul, who said he would be introducing a bill in the coming days that would take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges in the US.
Trump, who has frequently railed against the condition of US infrastructure, took up that theme again last month while expressing condolences for the victims of a Dec. 18 train derailment in Washington state that killed three people and injured dozens of others.
“The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!” Trump tweeted.
In announcing the freezing of a large chunk of security aid to Pakistan, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that Islamabad had failed to forcefully battle Afghan militant groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
The US says those groups use safe havens in Pakistan to launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan that target US and Afghan forces.
Nauert added, however, that those funds would not be used for other purposes and could be unblocked if Pakistan’s government takes decisive action against the militant groups.