US Congress OKs new restrictions on Pakistan aid

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by 1.44, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. 1.44

    1.44 Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009 Senior Member

    Jun 8, 2009
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    US Congress OKs new restrictions on Pakistan aid

    Washington: US lawmakers have passed a giant Pentagon spending bill that sets tough new restrictions on military aid to Pakistan, where top officials are already fuming over previous limits.

    The move came as Pakistani troops fought through the sixth day of a major assault against Taliban fighters in the restive Afghan border region with officials saying 137 militants and 18 soldiers had been killed since Saturday.

    The US Senate voted on Thursday 68-29 in favor of a 680-billion-dollar defense spending bill for fiscal year 2010, which sailed through the House of Representatives by a 281-146 margin on October 8 and now goes to President Barack Obama.

    The new limits include efforts to track where US military hardware sent to Pakistan ends up, as well as a warning that US aid to Pakistan must not upset "the balance of power in the region" -- a reference to tensions with India.

    The measure's chief authors, Senators Robert Menendez and Bob Corker, praised Pakistan for its help routing extremists but said they wanted to be sure US military aid goes to fight the "war on terrorism." Related article: Pakistan soldiers killed in ambush.

    "That fight is important to our own national security, and we have to ensure that our support for it is not being squandered or diverted," said Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

    "The Pakistanis should be commended for working to eliminate the terrorist safe havens within their own borders and for their role in the broader war on violent extremism," said Corker, a Republican from Tennessee.

    "This provision simply ensures that the American peoples’ tax dollars are being used for their intended purpose," he said.

    But the vote could worsen a flare-up between Washington and Islamabad about strings attached to US dollars, military training, and hardware, with Pakistani officials bitterly complaining of US interference in domestic affairs.

    Officials in Islamabad have condemned restrictions in US legislation to triple non-military aid to 7.5 billion dollars over five years, denouncing some limits the package sets on security assistance as attacks on its sovereignty.

    But US lawmakers have increasingly called for closer tracking of US aid to Pakistan, amid growing concerns about US strategy in Afghanistan as Obama weighs sending more troops to fight the eight-year-told war.

    The military spending bill would impose new restrictions on how Pakistan gets reimbursed out of a 1.6-billion-dollar fund for logistical and military support of US-led efforts to battle Islamist insurgents.

    The measure requires that the US secretaries of state and defense certify that "whether such reimbursement is consistent with the national security interest of the United States and will not adversely impact the balance of power in the region."

    The bill also says the Pentagon must certify that Islamabad is waging a "concerted" fight against Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other fighters before it can receive the massive package of aid to battle extremists on its soil.

    It directs the Pentagon to track how Pakistan uses military hardware it receives in order "to prohibit the re-transfer of such defense articles and defense services without the consent of the United States."

    The legislation instructs the White House to send lawmakers a report every 180 days on progress toward long-term security and stability in Pakistan.

    The bill also, for the first time, makes it a federal crime to assault ***s because of their sexual orientation, adding them to the list of groups protected under "hate crimes" legislation.

    The measure, long a priority of the late Democratic senator Edward Kennedy, prohibits assaults based on a person's race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical disability.

    The spending bill also calls for spending another 130 billion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2010, which began October 1.

    US Congress OKs new restrictions on Pakistan aid

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