The US House of Representatives voted for three legislative amendments to impose tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan, adding a caveat that Islamabad should make satisfactory progress in the fight against terrorism and breakthrough of longstanding caps on national defence spending.
The bill adopted decisively by 344 to 81 votes includes provisions for tightening restrictions on US assistance to Pakistan.
Two of these amendments were moved by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and one by Ted Poe.
Poe, who is a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation & Trade, along with Democrat Congressman Rick Nolan in January introduced the bipartisan bill seeking to revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally (MNNA), which was granted in 2004 by then US President George W Bush.
“Today, Congress took a step forward to end Pakistan’s betrayal of the US with the addition of an additional certification requirement,” said Poe.
National Defence Authorization Act, as passed by the House, now requires that the Pentagon assess Pakistan’s support for known terrorists before handing over US dollars to Islamabad, Ted Poe said.
“Making excess military equipment available to federal, state, and law enforcement agencies along our southern border will provide much-needed support and reinforcements to the men and women who are our first line of defence,” he said.
The bill requires the Secretary of Defence to certify, prior to making any reimbursement to Pakistan, that Islamabad is maintaining security along the ‘Ground Lines of Communication’ through Pakistan, taking demonstrable steps to support counterterrorism operations, disrupting cross border attacks, and countering the threat of improvised explosive devices.
The bill also specifies that of the total amount of reimbursement and support authorised for Pakistan during the period beginning on October 1, 2017, and ending on December 31, 2018,USD 400 million, would not be eligible for a national security waiver unless the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations against the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.
The Defence Secretary also needs to certify that Pakistan is demonstrating commitment to preventing the Haqqani network from using North Waziristan as a safe haven, and is actively coordinating with the Government of Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants, including the Haqqani Network, along the Pak-Afghan border.
The Secretary is asked to certify that Pakistan is cooperating with the United States in counter-terrorism efforts against the Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Al Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organisations.
The secretary of state is also required to certify that Pakistan is not supporting terrorist activities against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan.
The certification needs to include that Pakistan is not financing or otherwise supporting schools supported by, affiliated with, or run by the Taliban or any designated foreign terrorist organisation and that Islamabad is preventing the proliferation of nuclear-related material and expertise.
The bill also says that the funds made available under the ‘Foreign Military Financing Programme’ can only be used to support counter-terrorism and counter insurgency capabilities in Pakistan. This prevents Pakistan from using this fund to buy F-16 fighter jets, as it did in the past.
The legislative amendment moved by Rohrabacher adds a stipulation requiring that, prior to the disbursement of certain funds, the secretary of defence certify to Congress that Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the US to persecute minority groups seeking political or religious freedom.
Another Rohrabacher amendment expresses a sense of Congress that Shakil Afridi is an international hero and that the government of Pakistan should release him immediately from prison.
Shakil Afridi is a Pakistani physician who helped the CIA run a fake hepatitis vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to confirm Osama bin Laden’s presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples Details of his activities emerged during the Pakistani investigation of the deadly raid on bin Laden’s residence This account is disputed in a recent account of events which implies Afridi was implicated as a cover for the real CIA operative.
Afridi was arrested at the Torkham border crossing while trying to flee the country days after the raid. On 23 May 2012, he was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for treason, initially believed to be in connection with the bin Laden raid, but later revealed to be due to alleged ties with a local Islamist warlord Mangal Bagh.
Lawyers appealed against the verdict on 1 June 2012 On 29 August 2013, his sentence was overturned and a retrial ordered. In mid-November 2013, he was charged with murder in regard to the death of a patient he had treated eight years previously.
The National Defence Authorization Act for 2017 has good news for India as the US Congress has asked the Department of Defence and State Department to take specified actions to increase defense and security cooperation with India.
The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India.
The a $621.5 billion defence policy bill, moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, was adopted by a voice vote by the House as part of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, beginning October 1 this year.
NDAA-2018 was passed by the House 344-81.
“The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and India is the world’s largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations,” Bera said.
“I am grateful for this amendment passed and look forward to the Defence Department’s strategy that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for collaboration in science and technology,” he said.
“Cooperation between the US and India enhances our own defence and our ability to meet the evolving security challenges of the 21st century,” Bera added.