US defence bill pledges $900m to Pakistan
The US House of Representatives has passed a defence bill that pledges USD 900 million in economic and other assistance to Pakistan, a significant portion of which is dependent of a Pentagon certification that the country is taking demonstrable steps against the dreaded Haqqani Network.
The US National Defence Authorisation Act for fiscal year 2017 was passed in the House of Representatives on Friday.
The bill limits the overall amount available for reimbursement to USD 1.1 billion, of which USD 900 million is available for reimbursement to Pakistan.
It extends Congressional notification and certification requirements regarding reimbursements to Pakistan. The bill specifies that certain reimbursements to Pakistan are ineligible for a national security waiver unless Department of Defense makes specified certifications regarding the activities of Pakistan with respect to the Haqqani Network. According to Dawn newspaper, the bill conditions USD 450 m from this assistance to a certification.
This year the amount was USD 300 million, which was not released after Defence Secretary Ashton Carter refused to certify in Pakistan’s favour.
The bill is schedule for a vote in the Senate next week. Since it is a consensus bill, it is unlikely to face any opposition.
The bill notes that the United States and Pakistan continue to have many critical shared interests, both economic- and security-related, which could be the foundation for a positive and mutually beneficial partnership.” In a conference report, which combines the House and Senate versions of a legislation, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain had underlined the importance of a continued relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
He noted that the bill “refocuses security assistance to Pakistan on activities that directly support US national security interests”.