US Congressional committee seeks conditions on $350 million aid to Pakistan
A powerful Congressional committee has placed conditions on the release of $350 million financial aid to Pakistan for counter-terrorism operations to push Islamabad into taking action against the Haqqani network.
The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. The group linked to the Taliban is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.
Releasing the text of its version of the national defence authorisation (NDAA) bill, the House Armed Services Committee on Monday said that $350 million of the $700 million proposed financial assistance to Pakistan may not be released till the defence secretary certifies to Congress that Islamabad has taken actions against the Haqqani network militants.
According to the NDAA text running into more than 700 pages, it authorises $700 million in coalition support funds (CSF) to Pakistan. "Of that amount, not more than $350.0 million may be provided until the Secretary of Defence certified that Pakistan is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani network," it said.
The committee also authorised the president's budget request of $900 million for fiscal year 2019 for CSF payments.
In his new South Asia and Afghanistan policy in August, Trump had called for tougher measure against Pakistan if it fails to cooperate with the US in its fight against terrorism.
Since January, the Trump administration has suspended its security assistance to Pakistan alleging that Islamabad has not been taking satisfactory actions against terrorist safe havens inside the country.
The aid suspended has not be relocated yet but has been kept aside for Pakistan to be used later if and when it starts taking actions against terrorists.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied that there are any terrorist safe havens inside its territory. Both its officials in Islamabad and inside the United Nations in New York assert that there are no terrorist safe havens.
However, the top American leadership insists that there has been no change in Pakistani behaviour on this front that that it is fast running out of patience.