Obama objects to blocking of Pak. aid

AID AND OBLIGATIONS:U.S. President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the White House in October 2013.— FILE PHOTO: AFP

AID AND OBLIGATIONS:U.S. President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the White House in October 2013.— FILE PHOTO: AFP  

White House says conditioning assistance will “unnecessarily complicate progress” in ties

The Obama administration has opposed the Republican-controlled Congress’s move to block $450 million in aid to Pakistan for failing to “demonstrate its commitment” and taking action against the Haqqani network.

A White House statement in this regard came as the bill made its way to the House of Representatives from House Armed Services Committee.

The White House asserted that it shares the view of the lawmakers with regard to the Haqqani network, but such a move would “unnecessarily complicate progress” in bilateral ties. The House is likely to vote on the bill later this week.

Action against Haqqanis

According to the National Defense Authorization Act 2017, of the total amount of reimbursement and support authorised for Pakistan during the period beginning on October 1 this year, and ending on December 31, 2017, $450 million would not be eligible for a national security waiver unless the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct operations against Haqqanis.

The Administration objects to the particular section of the bill, “which would make $450 million of CSF (Coalition Support Fund) to Pakistan ineligible for the Secretary of Defense’s waiver authority unless the Secretary provides a certification to the Congressional defense committees,” the White House said.

“We share the Committee’s concerns regarding the threat posed to our forces and interests in Afghanistan by the Haqqani Network, and we continue to engage with Pakistan at the highest levels regarding the need for concerted action specifically against the group,” it said. It added: “However, the restriction would unnecessarily complicate progress in our bilateral relationship on this issue and would limit the Secretary of Defense’s ability to act in the U.S. national security interest.”

Under this new proposed provision, the Defense 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.

Certification requirement

There is similar certification requirement in the year ending on September 31, 2016, but the amount is $300 million. The Defence Secretary has not been able to give necessary certification for the release of the 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 aligns with the future of U.S. policy, including key counter-terrorism objectives, in the region. The Obama Administration has opposed any move to either restrict or condition U.S. military aid to Pakistan, arguing that its ties with Islamabad are very important. — PTI

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