WASHINGTON: Ignoring objections of the White House, the Republican majority House of Representatives has approved the National Defense Authorisation Act which blocks USD 450 million aid to Pakistan for failing to take action against the dreaded Haqqani network.
The NDAA 2017 (H R 4909) was passed by the US House of Representative (277-147) Wednesday night, which among others included approval of three major amendments reflecting the strong anti- Pak sentiment prevailing among the US lawmakers. As a result, as per the House version of the Bill, the Obama Administration must certify that Pakistan has met before releasing USD 450 million in aid.
“Pakistan has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani network senior leaders and mid-level operatives”.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment adds an additional requirement that the Secretary of Defense certify to Congress that Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the US to persecute minority groups seeking political or religious freedom.
The NDAA-2017 also includes the sense of the Congress that Shakil Afridi is an international hero and that the Government of Pakistan should release him immediately from prison.
NDAA-2017 now needs to be passed by the Senate, before it can be sent to the White House for the US President Barack Obama to sign it into law. Early this week, the White House had expressed strong objections to several provisions of the bill, including the one related to USD 450 million in aid to Pakistan.
“The Administration objects to section 1212 (of HR 4919), which would make USD 450 million of CSF (Coalition Support Fund) to Pakistan ineligible for the Secretary of Defense’s waiver authority unless the Secretary provides a certification to the Congressional defense committees,” the White House said in its statement.
“We share the Committee’s concerns regarding the threat posed to our forces and interests in Afghanistan by the Haqqani Network, and we continue to engage with Pakistan at the highest levels regarding the need for concerted action specifically against the group,” the White House said.
However, Congressman Mark Thornberry, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee late Wednesday night decided to ignore the White House’s objection to this and asked the members of the House to approve these amendments in block, for which no voting took place.