U.S. President Barack Obama appeared to firmly link nearly $33 million in aid and other funding for Pakistan to Islamabad’s cooperation in securing the release of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who allegedly assisted the U.S. Special Forces operation to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
Contained within the $1.1 trillion spending bill signed by Mr. Obama on Friday, which represents a bipartisan compromise to avert a government shutdown of the type witnessed last October, are also provisions to withhold the financial assistance until Secretary of State John Kerry certifies that Pakistan “is not supporting terrorist activities against U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes.”
The bill was passed by the House of Representatives with overwhelming support, by 359-67 votes on Wednesday and subsequently passed by the Senate 72-26 on Thursday.
A measure that could have implications for terrorism affecting India was the provision calling for Pakistan’s cooperation with the U.S. “in counterterrorism efforts against the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura, Taliban, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al-Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organisations, including… [preventing] them from basing and operating in Pakistan and carrying out cross border attacks into neighbouring countries.”
The bill’s provision relating to Dr. Afridi specifically notes, “Of the funds… made available for assistance for Pakistan, $33 million shall be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State reports to the Committees on Appropriations that Dr. Shakil Afridi has been released from prison and cleared of all charges relating to the assistance provided to the U.S. in locating Osama bin Laden.”