US Congress approves $700m for Pakistan

The United States’ Congress has authorised to reimburse up to USD 700 million in Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for activities carried out in support of the US operations in Afghanistan.

According to reports, the authorization was in the reconciled text of the House and Senate versions of the 2018 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA-2018), which was released last week.

Pakistan will get USD 350 million of USD 700 million after the US Defence Secretary,  James Mattis certify that Pakistan took demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.

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However, the NDAA urged to the US Defence department to keep a check on the assistance provided to Pakistan, so that it can’t be misused by supporting militant groups.

The reconciled text also expressed concern about the alleged persecution of various political or religious groups in Pakistan, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Baloch, Sindhi and Hazara.

The bill urged the Defence secretary to ensure that Pakistan will not use any assistance provided by the US to persecute minority groups.

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Earlier in September, the US had provided USD 255 million in military aid to Pakistan, with conditions attached – the US State Department saying that Islamabad can access the funds only if it acts against terror groups based in the tribal areas and stop cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

While announcing the new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, the US President, Donald Trump excoriated Pakistan, saying “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.”

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The military aid to Pakistan was committed by the previous Obama administration in 2015, but the Trump administration has attached new conditions to further delay the release.

This move is initiated by the Trump administration to change the approach of the Pakistan government towards terror groups, the State Department said that while the US valued its cooperation with Pakistan and wanted to see it continue.

“The President has been clear that we are looking into the Pakistani government to take a decisive action against the militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region. It is vital to the US interests that Pakistan prevents terrorist sanctuaries,” the message said.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in the region.”

The 255 million dollars in military assistance was the largest portion of an estimated 1.1 billion dollars of US aid Congress had authorised in 2016.

The US claims that more than 33 billion dollars in aid has been provided to Pakistan since 2002.

Although the volume of annual US assistance to Pakistan at 1.1 billion dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars are withheld every year under different restrictions imposed since 2011, when relations between the two countries began to deteriorate after Osama bin Laden’s discovery in Abbottabad.

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