U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law a massive $662-billion defence spending bill that also seeks to suspend a big chunk of $1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan, despite his “serious reservations” about provisions regulating detention and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

“I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Mr. Obama said in a statement on Saturday evening after signing the bill.

The $662-billion defence authorisation bill for the year 2012, among other things, seeks to suspend 60 per cent of $1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan — under the category Pakistan Counter-insurgency Fund — till Secretaries of State and Defence report to the Congress that Islamabad is making progress in the war on terror, particularly progress in strategies to counter manufacturing of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

IEDs, which are mostly manufactured in Pakistan in its illicit factories, are one of the largest factors responsible for the death of American troops in Afghanistan.

However, Mr. Obama in his signing statement made no reference to this provision, which had drawn widespread condemnation in Pakistan and put another strain in U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

The administration has maintained the bill under no circumstances results in suspension of U.S. military aid to Pakistan; as being interpreted by the Pakistani media.

U.S. officials insist that the Department of Defence and the State Department would work with the government of Pakistan to meet the requirements of the bill.

They say there are no conditions on Pakistan, even as there are requirements that the U.S. needs to meet, before the 60 per cent of the $1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan could be disbursed.

Objectives

Under the provision of the bill, the Defence Secretary is also required to submit a report to the Congress on a discussion of U.S. strategic objectives in Pakistan; a listing of the terrorist or extremist groups in Pakistan opposing U.S. goals in the region and against which the U.S. encourages Pakistan to take action; and a discussion of the gaps in capabilities of Pakistani security units that hamper ability of Islamabad to take action against these organisations.

The Defence Secretary's report to the Congress needs to include the “metrics” that will be used to track progress in achieving the U.S. strategic objectives in Pakistan, to track progress of Pakistan in combating the terrorists organisations. — PTI

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