Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says he regrets the U.S. decision to stop $800 million in military aid to Pakistan.
Musharraf called the move “disastrous” on Monday, telling an audience at Rice University in Houston, Texas that the aid cut-off is not in the best interest of the United States because it will weaken Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism.
Earlier Monday, Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told VOA that reduced U.S. aid will not hamper operations against al-Qaida and Taliban militants. General Abbas said that defeating terrorism is in the interest of both countries, but he also warned that aid with conditions is unacceptable.
In Washington Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters “the suspension of some aid to Pakistan does not signal a shift in policy but underscores the fact that the partnership with Pakistan depends on cooperation.”
Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said the “hold” on funds was directly tied to those decisions by the Pakistani military to expel American military trainers and put limits on visas for U.S. personnel.
Musharraf said on Monday that he is saddened by what he sees as the recent “environment of confrontation between Pakistan and the United States.” Musharraf says that relations can be improved if the U.S. further takes into concern Pakistani sensitivities and sovereignty.
Ties between the two countries have been deteriorating since the raid by U.S. special forces that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in northern Pakistan May 2. Musharraf again denied that Pakistani intelligence had any knowledge of bin Laden’s whereabouts during his presidency, which ended in 2008 after months of protests.
Musharraf, who took power in Pakistan in a 1999 coup, says he is considering a run for Pakistan’s presidency in 2013.