US conditions $2.3 bn military aid to Pakistan on not confronting India (Lead)

October 23rd, 2009 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 23 (IANS) President Barack Obama is expected to sign a defence bill, which includes tough new conditions linking $2.3 billion American military aid to Pakistan to fight against terror and not using it to wage war against India.

The president is likely to sign the $680 billion fiscal 2010 defence authorisation bill passed by the Senate 68-29 late Thursday night despite objections to its funding for a controversial backup jet fighter engine. The House of Representatives had passed the bill Oct 8.

Among other things, the bill aims at ensuring that US military resources provided to Pakistan are not squandered or diverted to adversely affect the “balance of power in the region”, an oblique reference to India.

The bill also requires the President to make an assessment every six months of the effectiveness of Pakistan’s efforts “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda, its affiliated networks, and other extremist forces in Pakistan; to eliminate the safe havens for such forces in Pakistan; and to prevent the return of such forces to Pakistan or Afghanistan”.

“This provision simply ensures that the American peoples’ tax dollars are being used for their intended purpose,” Senator Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee and co-author of the measure along with Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, said.

The proposed restrictions on Pakistan are buried in the $680.2 billion defence authorisation bill, including conditions on the spending of billions of dollars for training, equipping and reimbursing the Pakistani military.

There are also new requirements for end-use monitoring of weapons and mandates that the US administration certifies that the aid serves America’s interests.

Besides the required monitoring of how Pakistan uses defence goods and services that it receives from the United States, the defence authorisation conference report would mandate a number of certifications from the administration and, indirectly, from Pakistan.

One provision affects the $1.6 billion the bill would authorise for a Coalition Support Fund to reimburse Pakistan for logistical and military support for counterinsurgency operations.

The Coalition Support Fund has accounted for 70 per cent of the $12.3 billion in American military and non-military aid to Pakistan since Sep 11, 2001.

The defence authorisation measure would require that, before any more such money is spent, the secretaries of defence and state must certify that doing so is in the US national interest and will not adversely affect the region’s balance of power.

Another certification is required before the Pentagon can begin spending any of the $700 million it might receive from requested State Department appropriations in the coming fiscal year for the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Capability Fund.

That programme, begun in fiscal 2009, is meant to train and equip the Pakistani military to fight insurgents and terrorists on its territory.

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