"The 112th Congress has focused on measures to reduce the federal budget deficit. This backdrop may influence congressional debate over the third-ranking U.S. aid recipient, Pakistan-a country vital to U.S. national security interests but that some say lacks accountability and even credibility. Pakistan has been among the leading recipients of U.S. foreign assistance both historically and in recent years. The country arguably is as important to forwarding U.S. security interests as any in the world. Developments in 2011 put immense strains on bilateral relations, making uncertain the future direction of U.S. aid to Pakistan. Disruptions included the May killing of Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani city and a November NATO military raid into Pakistani territory near Afghanistan that inadvertently left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. For many lawmakers, the core issue remains balancing Pakistan's strategic importance to the United States with the pervasive and mounting distrust in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as well as with budget deficit-reduction pressures. U.S. assistance to Pakistan has fluctuated considerably over the past 60 years. In the wake of 9/11, however, aid to Pakistan has increased steadily as the Bush and Obama Administrations both characterized Pakistan as a crucial U.S. partner in efforts to combat terrorism and to promote stability in both Afghanistan and South Asia. Since 1948, the United States has pledged more than $30 billion in direct aid, about half for military assistance. Two-thirds of this total was appropriated in the post-9/11 era from FY2002 to FY2011. Many observers question the gains accrued to date, viewing a lack of accountability and reform by the Pakistani government as major obstacles. Moreover, any goodwill generated by U.S. aid is offset by widespread anti-American sentiment among the Pakistani people."
CRS Report for Congress, R41856