US Congress passes bill to slash Pak’s defence aid to USD 150 million

US Congress passes bill to slash Pak’s defence aid to USD 150 million
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Washington: Amidst tensions in bilateral ties, the US Congress has passed a defence spending bill capping its security-related aid to Pakistan at USD 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.

The National Defense Authorisation Act-2019 (NDAA-19), however, removes certain conditions like action against Haqqani Network as was the case in the past few years for disbursement of US aid to Pakistan.

The Senate passed the conference report on NDAA-19 by 87 to 10 votes yesterday afternoon. The House of Representatives had passed the conference report last week. It now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump’s assent.

“The legislation reduces the total amount of funds provided for reimbursement to Pakistan to USD 150 million. This is a significant reduction from the USD 700 million that was authorised through Coalition Support Fund (CSF) last year,” Anish Goel, who was part of Barack Obama’s White House National Security Council, told PTI.

However, in doing so, the legislation gets rid of the certification requirements for Pakistan’s action against the Haqqani Network and it also gets rid of the authority to reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism, he said.

“Hence, the Pentagon no longer has any tools to put pressure on Pakistan to undertake counter-terrorism activities or action against the Haqqani Network,” Goel, who till recently was a senior staffer in the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.

During the previous Obama administration, Pakistan used to get nearly 1.2 billion aid from the US under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act.

US President Donald Trump since assuming office has been tough on Pakistan over its inaction against terror groups. Trump in August last year unveiled his new South Asia policy and asked Pakistan to do more against such groups. PTI

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