After Israel and Egypt, Pakistan has long been the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. That's because Pakistan has been one of America's most staunch allies in the Third World.
Even so, Washington did the right thing this week in suspending aid to Pakistan. Congress should seriously consider going further toward scrapping this 30-year partnership by sharply cutting or even eliminating the $600 million a year that Pakistan has been getting in U.S. economic and military aid.Such a sharp rebuke is in order because words alone don't seem to deter Pakistan from its clandestine efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Though Pakistan steadfastly denies such efforts, evidence to the contrary has become all but undeniable.
Only this week, for example, it was discovered that Pakistan has secretly been trying to buy high-temperature furnaces that can be used in making nuclear weapons - and in making missiles to deliver those weapons. The fact that Pakistan is seeking the furnaces from several different sources in the United States, Germany and Britain indicates that the Pakistanis don't want this equipment for peaceful purposes.
But even if Pakistan were not trying to develop nuclear weapons, there still would be ample reason for reducing its U.S. aid.
The fact is that Washington keeps giving aid to the same list of recipients even though world conditions have changed recently. That's why Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas has been suggesting a 5 percent cut in the $6.6 billion the U.S. allocates to Israel, Egypt, the Philippines, Turkey and Pakistan.
The money saved by such a cut would let Washington do more to help the Eastern European countries trying to switch from communism to freedom and capitalism - and to help the Latin American countries on the front line of the costly and often bloody war against drugs.
Sadly, Dole's suggestion has gotten nowhere. Let's hope that new life is breathed into it as a result of the new discoveries about Pakistan's continuing efforts at nuclear proliferation.