Pentagon blocks $ 300 mn military aid to Pakistan
In a setback to Pakistan, the US has blocked $300 million military aid to it after Defence Secretary Ashton Carter declined to give a certification to the Congress by saying that Pakistan is not taking sufficient action against the dreaded Haqqani network.
In the absence of Congressional certification, the Pentagon has blocked disbursement of $300 million to Pakistan under Coalition Support Fund, which is essentially reimbursement money for the expenses made by Pakistan Army in support of US operations in Afghanistan.
“The funds ($300 million) could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the (Defence) Secretary has not yet certified that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network per the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) requirement,” Pentagon Spokesman Adam Stump said.
Pakistan has reimbursed $700 million of the $one billion they were authorised in fiscal year 2015 under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). “With the Secretary’s decision, there is no additional FY15 CSF available to Pakistan,” Stump said.
Noting that June 30 was the deadline for the Department of Defence to submit its omnibus reprogramming request to Congress, Stump said in order to meet that deadline Carter requested a reprogramming of $300 million remaining in 2015 Coalition Support Funds originally authorised for Pakistan.
“The secretary decided to request reprogramming of the funds to retain the ability to use those funds for other requirements,” he said, adding that this decision “does not reduce” the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over the last two years.
“We continue to be encouraged by Pakistan’s operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the FATA. Pakistan’s efforts have reduced the ability of some militant groups to use North Waziristan and the FATA as a safe haven for terrorism. However, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network continue to operate in other locations in Pakistan,” Stump said. Pakistan has been authorised $900 million in fiscal 2016 CSF. Of that, $350 Million is subject to a Secretary of Defence certification that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network, he said.
“Pakistan is the largest recipient of CSF reimbursements, having received roughly $14 billion since 2002,” Stump said. “This is the first time there’s been a Secretary Defence’s certification required,” he added.
The Haqqani Network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan, as well as Afghan government and civilian targets. The group 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.
Nadeem Hotiana, spokesman, Embassy of Pakistan, said Pakistan will continue its fight against terrorism and ensure that areas cleared by the security forces do not slide back into the control of terrorist networks. Coalition Support Fund, he said, is one of the many cooperative arrangements between Pakistan and the United States to pursue common objectives.
“These reimbursements enable the United States to support Pakistan’s ongoing counter-terrorism efforts in a manner that serves shared interests of both countries. Under this arrangement, both countries continue to work closely to build on the gains achieved over the past years that have improved security in the tribal areas,” Hotiana said.
He argued that Pakistan has conducted a large number of military operations that have sequentially dismantled and destroyed terrorist infrastructure on its side on the international border with Afghanistan.
“Pakistan will continue to work with its partners in a long-term effort for ensuring security and stability in these areas,” Hotiana said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s decision was welcomed by eminent experts who said that this was long due.