US Senate approves defence aid with strings for PakistanJuly 25th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS
By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 25 (IANS) The US Senate has approved the country’s defence budget with an amendment aimed at ensuring that military assistance for Pakistan is actually being used only to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The bipartisan amendment moved by Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Bob Corker would mandate a certification by the secretaries of state and defence, before Pakistan is reimbursed with Coalition Support Funds, that the payment is both in the national security interests of the US, and will not affect the balance of power in the region.
“To this point, almost eight years and more than seven billion in American taxpayer dollars for Pakistan’s military have not prevented the Taliban and Al Qaeda from regrouping along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” said Menendez.
“The fight against these extremists is crucial for our own security, which is why we have to certify that our support is in fact doing what we intend it to do and is not being used for other purposes.
“This is an issue of national security and of responsibility with taxpayer dollars, and it is important that passed the Senate.”
“We appreciate the important role Pakistan has played in our fight to eliminate the terrorist safe havens within their borders, but we also owe it to our service members and the American taxpayer to ensure that the funds provided to Pakistan out of the Coalition Support Funds are in fact being directed toward those efforts and not misdirected,” said Corker.
The Menendez-Corker amendment came amidst growing apprehension among lawmakers that the military aid given to Pakistan to fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda was being diverted for a build up against India instead of its intended purpose.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
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