White House opposes conditional aid to Pak

The White House has strongly opposed the conditions on US aid to Pakistan by the powerful House Armed Services Committee for the fiscal year 2013.

Washington: The White House has strongly opposed the conditions on US aid to Pakistan by the powerful House Armed Services Committee in the National Defence Authorization (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2013.

In a statement issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Tuesday, the Obama administration said any conditions imposed on Pakistan for receiving US aid would be counter-productive at this sensitive time.

Opposing many provisions of the NDAA-2013, the White House yesterday threatened to veto it, if the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the Administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources.

The Obama administration strongly objects to the restriction in reimbursement for Pakistan from Coalition Support Funds and the associated certification requirements in section 1211 of the Act, it said.

"Taken together, the reimbursement restriction and the certification restrictions - some of which require the Secretary of Defence to certify Pakistani cooperation on issues outside of his purview - are proposed at a particularly sensitive time and would severely constrict DOD`s (Department of Defense) ability to respond to emergent war-time coalition support requirements.

"This can put at risk the success of our campaign in Afghanistan, and increasing the risk that al-Qaeda and its associates would be able to again enjoy a safe haven in Pakistan," the OMB statement said.

The White House also objected to the language included in the Act, which would limit the use of expanded procurement authority to only those Northern Distribution Network (NDN) countries that agree to permit the transport of coalition personnel, equipment and supplies.

This restriction would hamper DOD`s attempts at local procurement along the NDN and would impact transit agreements that the United States already has negotiated with several countries along the NDN, it said.

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee "overwhelmingly" passed the Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) 2013 imposing conditions on Pakistan for receiving economic and military aid from the US based on Islamabad`s action against terrorists and IEDs.

Among other things, NDAA 2013 prohibits the preferential procurement of goods or services from Pakistan till Islamabad re-opens the crucial NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, which were closed in the aftermath of the death of 24 Pak soldiers on November 26 in a NATO cross border fire.

It also seeks certification from the Defence Secretary
that Pakistan is committed to supporting counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda, its associated movements, the Haqqani Network and other domestic and foreign terrorist organisations.

As also in dismantling improvised explosive device (IED) networks and interdicting precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of IEDs; preventing the proliferation of nuclear-related material and expertise; and issuing visas in a timely manner for United States visitors engaged in counterterrorism efforts and assistance programmes in Pakistan.

The Act notes that the Taliban, Haqqanis and associated insurgents continue to enjoy safe havens in Pakistan, but are unlikely to be capable of overthrowing the Afghan Government unless the United States withdraws forces precipitously from Afghanistan.

In a detailed eight-page note, the Obama administration also expressed disappointment on many other provisions in this bill, which it said, impede the ability of the Secretary of Defence to carry out the 2012 defence strategic guidance.

"If the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the administration to execute the new defence strategy and to properly direct scarce resources, the President`s senior advisors would recommend to the President that he veto the bill," the OMB warned.