UK lawmakers want strings attached to Pakistan aid

* Say budget can only be justified if there is clear evidence that DFID support is effective in reducing extremism in Pakistan

LONDON: British aid to Pakistan should be cut unless there is proof the funds help stop extremism, a report by lawmakers said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited London.
Published just hours before Nawaz was to meet British counterpart David Cameron, the international development committee report singled out Pakistan for criticism.
Pakistan is the largest recipient of bilateral British aid, with Islamabad set to receive £446 million ($750 million) of assistance this year.
“It is unlikely that expenditure would be so high if the country were not having to confront Islamic extremism,” the report said.
“If this is the case, the budget can only be justified if there is clear evidence that DFID (Department for International Development) support is effective in reducing the extremist threat... If not, we recommend that DFID consider reducing spending in Pakistan and increasing it in low-income countries.”
The British lawmakers also said that aid should not be increased until Pakistani political leaders pay their fair share of tax, and increase tax collection generally.
Islamabad said Nawaz Sharif would discuss “matters of mutual interest” with Cameron and other ministers during his three-day visit, as well as addressing an investment conference.
But Nawaz Sharif’s talks with Cameron are set to focus on the threat of extremism in Pakistan, where authorities are in talks with the Taliban to try to end a seven-year insurgency.
Since the Taliban began their campaign of violence in 2007, more than 6,800 people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks around Pakistan, according to an AFP tally.
NATO countries, including Britain, also want Pakistan to help tackle the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, as foreign troops prepare to leave by the end of this year. 

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