Washington: The US Congress has initiated a move to block USD 450 million in aid to Pakistan for failing to “demonstrate its commitment” and taking action against the terror group Haqqani network.
The provision in the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2017, if passed by the Congress, would not allow the US Government to waive this condition in ‘national interest’.
According to NDAA 2017 as passed by the House Armed Services Committee last week, of the total amount of reimbursement and support authorised for Pakistan during the period beginning on October 1, 2016, and ending on December 31, 2017, USD 450 million would not be eligible for a national security waiver unless the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations against terror group Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.
The Defence Secretary also needs to certify that Pakistan is demonstrating commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using North Waziristan as a safe haven and is actively coordinating with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of terrorists, including the Haqqani Network, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
There is similar certification requirement in the current fiscal 2016 ending on September 31, 2016, but the amount is USD 300 million.
Defence Secretary has not been able to give necessary certification for the release of such a fund to Pakistan so far.
The House Armed Services Committee says that it will continue to review the reimbursements made to Pakistan and how it comforts with the future of US policy, including key counter-terrorism and security objectives, in the region.
It also asked the Secretary of Defence to notify the congressional defence committees prior to making any reimbursement to Pakistan for any logistical, military or other support.
It further extends the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to certify, prior to making any reimbursement to Pakistan, that Pakistan is maintaining security along the Ground Lines of Communications, taking demonstrable steps to support counter-terrorism operations, disrupting cross border attacks and countering the threat of improvised explosive devices.
The move comes days after the US told Pakistan to put forward its national funds to buy eight F-16s worth USD 700 million after some top Senators put a hold on the use of American tax payers’ money to partially finance them.
In a recent Congressional testimony the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson, said that the Obama Administration has USD 742.2 million in American aid to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017. This includes USD 472.4 million in civilian assistance and USD 269.8 million in security assistance.
“This request strikes the appropriate balance between long-term development and strategic military-to-military cooperation, both of which are in our national security interest, and is at a level that we can responsibly implement,” Mr Olson said.
“This request is considerably lower – indeed, over 60 per cent lower – than our peak funding for Pakistan in FY 2010, the first year under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman authorisation,” he added.
“While this decrease is warranted given urgent needs around the globe, the requested resources remain crucial to advancing cooperation on core areas that matter to us: bolstering Pakistan’s counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations; empowering women and girls; enabling the return of internally displaced persons; and facilitating private sector investment in Pakistan’s economy and energy sector,” Mr Olson said.