US passes bill for $700m aid freeze on Pakistan
WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives has passed legislation to freeze $700 million in aid to Pakistan until the country offers greater assurance to Washington to contain the spread of activities by militants.
Acting shortly after the White House dropped a threat to veto the bill, the Republican-led chamber voted 283-136 to approve the $662 billion Defence Authorisation Bill, which also sets high hurdles for closing Guantanamo Bay.
The Democratic-held Senate was expected to vote on the same bill as early as Thursday. US President Barack Obama, who had threatened to veto earlier versions of the yearly measure, will sign it when it reaches his desk despite lingering misgivings, spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement before the vote.
“However, if in the process of implementing this law we determine that it will negatively impact our counterterrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law, we expect that the authors of these provisions will work quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems,” said Carney.
The bill would also freeze roughly $700 million in aid to Pakistan pending assurances that Islamabad has taken steps to thwart militants who use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against US-led forces in Afghanistan.
“If this legislation becomes law, we’ll work with the government of Pakistan on how we can fulfil the requirements. But, this requires us to maintain a strategic perspective,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy on Thursday contradicted media reports about “cut” of $700 million in military aid to Pakistan by the US Congress. “There have been incorrect and unclear media reports that the US Congress has “cut” $700 million in military aid to Pakistan. To clarify the issue, we offer the following important facts about the draft 2012 National Defence Authorisation Act currently under consideration in the US Congress.”
“The current draft of the Actdoes not “cut” $700 million in military aid to Pakistan. Rather, it includes a reporting requirement,” a statement issued by the US Embassy here said.
“In this instance, once the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan is cooperating in our joint efforts to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the funds will be released”, the statement added.
“Assistance conditioned to reporting requirements is not new, nor are such reporting requirements specific to Pakistan. This is standard practice in nearly every country that receives US military assistance,” the statement said.
Source: The News