US House freezes $700 mn aid to Pakistan

The US House of Representatives approved a billion dollar defence bill, which, among other things, freezes the USD 700 million in aid to Pakistan.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2011, 13:02 PM IST

Washington: The US House of Representatives
approved a billion dollar defence bill, which, among other
things, freezes the USD 700 million in aid to Pakistan untill
the country offers greater assurances to Washington to contain
the spread of Improvised Explosive Devices.

The National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012, as
passed by the House, freezes nearly USD 700 million in aid to
Pakistan pending assurances that it has taken steps to thwart
militants who use IEDs against US-led forces.

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted 283-136
on Wednesday to approve the USD 670 billion Defence Authorisation
Bill that also slaps harsher sanctions on Iran and endorses
indefinite imprisonment of suspected terrorists.

"This freeze includes the majority of the USD 1.1 billion
in Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund," the House Armed Services
Committee had said in a statement early this week, after
members of the House and the Senate reached an agreement on
the bill.

The House vote came after the White House said that
President Barack Obama will not veto the bill as it was
satisfied with the changes made in it.

"As a result of these changes, we have concluded that the
language does not challenge or constrain the President`s
ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous
terrorists, and protect the American people, and the
President`s senior advisors will not recommend a veto," White
House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"However, if in the process of implementing this law we
determine that it will negatively impact our counter-terrorism
professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law,
we expect that the authors of these provisions will work
quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems," Carney
said.

On Wednesday, the Obama Administration had asserted there was
no cut in aid to Pakistan and it would work with the Pakistani
government to meet the requirements of the defence spending
bill for the year 2012.

"We will work with the Pakistanis to meet the
requirements," a senior administration official said, adding
the US had "not cut" assistance to Pakistan.

Congressman Howard P McKeon said, "Together we have
demanded more accountability from nations like Iran, we have
aided our forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we look
to emerging issues, like proliferation and cyber threats.

"We have assured that the Department of Defence will be a
more efficient steward of the taxpayer dollar and we have
ensured that as we fight terrorists around the world, we also
protect the civil liberties of Americans at home."

Another Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the
Committee said overall, the bill prioritises US troops
deployed in Afghanistan, and around the world by ensuring that
they have the tools and resources they need to do their job
and protect national security.

"It also provides our troops and their families with the
benefits and support that they deserve, including a 1.6 per
cent pay increase," he said.

The bill, Smith said, continues to make counter-terrorism
a priority and makes significant investments in all branches
of our Armed Services, ensuring that the military is prepared
to meet the threats of today as well as the future.

PTI