Saturday, December 21, 2013

US to Pakistan: Reimbursement limits and don't use military aid to persecute minorities

WASHINGTON: A proposed new law that has the White House’s approval seeks to fiscally squeeze Pakistan if interruptions to the US/Nato ground supply route through Pakistan continue.

In addition, the US National Defense Authorisation Bill of 2014 seeks a certification from the US defense secretary that Pakistan is taking demonstrable actions against Al Qaeda and other militant groups active along the Pak-Afghan border.

The development comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent visit to Pakistan during which he was reported to have warned of the mood in the US Congress souring on Pakistan.

The bill, already approved by the House of Representatives, includes a one-year extension for reimbursing Pakistan for supporting the US-led war against terrorists.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the White House noted that “the bill will … support (US) capacity building efforts with foreign military forces, and support contingency or stability operations.”

The bill includes a section which extends funding Pakistan’s counter-terrorism activities for one year with certain modifications.

In a section titled “Limitation on amounts available”, it reduces the amount available for reimbursing Pakistan from $1.65 billion in 2013 to $1.5bn in 2014.

It also says that no amounts authorised to be appropriated by this bill, and no amounts authorised to be appropriated for fiscal years before 2014 that remain available for obligation, may be used for reimbursing Pakistan, until the US secretary of defence certifies to the congressional defence committees each of the following:

(A) That Pakistan is maintaining security and is not through its actions or inactions at any level of government limiting or otherwise restricting the movement of US equipment and supplies along the Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs) through Pakistan to Afghanistan so that such equipment and supplies can be trans-shipped and such equipment and supplies can be retrograded out of Afghanistan.

(B) That Pakistan is taking demonstrable steps to:

(i) Support counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and other militant extremists groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Quetta Shura Taliban located in Pakistan;

ii) Disrupt the conduct of cross-border attacks against United States, coalition and Afghanistan security forces located in Afghanistan by such groups (including the Haqqani Network and the Quetta Shura Taliban) from bases in Pakistan;

(iii) Counter the threat of IEDs, including efforts to attack IED networks, monitor known precursors used in IEDs, and systematically address the misuse of explosive materials (including calcium ammonium nitrate) and accessories and their supply to legitimate end-users in a manner that impedes the flow of IEDs and IED components into Afghanistan; and (iv) Conduct cross-border coordination and communication with Afghan security forces and US armed forces in Afghanistan.

The bill also requires the secretary to certify that Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the US to persecute minority groups for their legitimate and non-violent political and religious beliefs, including the Baloch, Sindhi, and Hazara ethnic groups and minority religious groups, including Christian, Hindu and members of the Ahmadiya community.

The bill, however, authorises the US secretary of defence to waive the limitation if the secretary certifies to the congressional defence committees in writing that the waiver is in the national security interests of the United States and includes with such certification a justification for the waiver.

“Although the bill includes a number of provisions that restrict or limit the Defence Department’s ability to align military capabilities and force structure with the president’s strategy and implement certain efficiencies, overall the administration is pleased with the modifications and improvements contained in the bill,” the White House said.

The bill addresses “most of the administration’s significant objections with earlier versions regarding these issues and the administration supports passage of the legislation,” it added.

Source: Pakistan Dawn

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