Standing up for allies: Clinton wants Obama to veto conditional aid bill

Published: July 28, 2011

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Congress that she will fight to block a Republican push to restrict aid for Israel's Arab neighbors and Pakistan and cut off climate change funds. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that she will recommend to President Barack Obama that he veto any bill that proposes new conditions to US assistance to its allies, including Pakistan, in a letter that the top US diplomat sent to the chairperson of a Congressional panel that voted to approve the bill.

In a letter to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (a Republican from Florida), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary Clinton said that the effect of the restrictions in the bill would be “debilitating to her efforts to carry out a considered foreign policy and diplomacy, and to use foreign assistance strategically to that end.”

With regard to Pakistan specifically, Clinton said that the bill “toughens the certification criteria for assistance under the current Kerry-Lugar-Berman Pakistan legislation and removes altogether that law’s waiver authorities.”

(Read: Distrustful allies: Another panel, another set of conditions)

While Clinton claimed to be speaking for herself, it would be highly unusual for a US Secretary of State to publicly ask for a presidential veto without a private assurance from the president that he would stand behind such a demand.

The 2012 Foreign Relations Authorisation Act, which passed the House committee on July 22, calls for US  assistance to Pakistan being subject to the Secretary of State testifying about Pakistan’s co-operation with the United States on “the existence of an official or unofficial support network in Pakistan for Osama Bin Laden”.

The bill asks Pakistan to provide the US with access to Bin Laden’s relatives, his Abbottabad residence and material collected from within the compound.

Other conditions laid out in the bill’s draft say that Pakistan should facilitate visas for “official US visitors engaged in counter-terrorism efforts and training or other cooperative programmes and projects in Pakistan.”

The bill also says that the US government officials must testify that Pakistan “is using defence articles and defence services provided by the United States under the Foreign Military Sales programme according to the end-use purposes, security requirements, and other terms and conditions agreed to by the United States at the time of transfer or by subsequent agreement.”

Democrats on the committee mostly voted against the bill while Republicans mostly voted in favour of it.

Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani told The Express Tribune that he agreed with the contents of Secretary Clinton’s letter to Ross-Lehtinen.

An aide to the chairperson told The Express Tribune in response to Secretary Clinton’s letter: “The Chairwoman is disappointed that the Obama administration would stand in the way of a bill that saves billions of dollars, mandates needed bureaucratic and policy reforms, enhances US security by placing conditions on US assistance to Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority, and blocks US tax dollars from being wasted on foreign organizations, programs, and governments that work to undermine US interests abroad.”

“I hear the demands of the American people to stop the spending spree, and that is why I am unwilling to agree to the huge overall spending increase that the President wanted in this bill. My legislation protects and advances our national security interests and priorities while rejecting the notion that it takes more government and more spending to do so,” the aide quoted the congresswoman as having said.

On Wednesday, the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee for House Appropriations Committee unanimously passed a bill that also slashed funding for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development and proposed new conditions on US assistance to Pakistan.

The foreign affairs committee bill will be sent to the floor of the US House of Representatives for a vote, and then to the Senate. The Democratic Party controls the Senate, whereas the Republican Party has the majority in the House of Representatives.

Secretary Clinton called President Asif Al Zardari late on Thursday night, though it was not immediately clear whether the two leaders discussed the bill or wider US aid to Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.

Reader Comments (16)

  • Jul 28, 2011 - 12:41PM

    Restriction EPA funding is just silly. But despite being a Pakistani, I can see why Republicans want to reduce funding to Pakistan. With the level of corruption sky high, and the presence of an incompetent military that can’t find its own butt in the dark….I’m afraid the Republicans have a point.

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  • Frank
    Jul 28, 2011 - 12:57PM

    Dear Hilary, I think these days you Americans need the money more than we do. Please do us a favour and keep your money. We don’t want it.

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  • SanaUllah Baloch
    Jul 28, 2011 - 12:59PM

    Yes US should stop all aid to Pakistan, this is the only way i can see US influence on Pakistan will be ended and these puppits in Islamabad can make their own decisions.

    There will be a vacuum of Super Power until 2030 because China needs to continue the same growth rate for next 20 years to become a Super Power.This means now Super Power will be a Panel of countries not a single country.

    Another important issue the growth rate of China and India will decrease remarkably because both these countries highly depends on USA. China ofcourse will ultimately get the benefit because of furtehr shift of manufacturing units. All call centers in India and software companies will be dependent on China than. Recent shift of further manufacturing units of GE is a clear example.

    Pakistan should open the doors for India, China Russia and ME. Infrastructure is available but policies are not there like Motorways well constructed highways. See what ll happen if China exports go to developed region of India through Pakistan, India exporting to Central Asia and ME. China also using this route for ME. All persian gulf petrochemical and oil exports are going through Pakistan to China, India. All oil exports of central Asia goes through Pakistan.

    Pakistan than ll not be asking anyone for aid. Threats of wars will be minimum because all countries will be depending on each other.

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  • Jul 28, 2011 - 1:58PM

    We impulsively denounce aid but can we really survive without the lifesaver shots of US aid? That’s the question. It’s a question of “our” own survival now.

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  • A.R
    Jul 28, 2011 - 2:16PM

    USA on decay , your citizens are more deserved this money rather then Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jul 28, 2011 - 2:28PM

    Forbidden Fruit

    We impulsively denounce aid but can we
    really survive without the lifesaver
    shots of US aid? That’s the question.
    It’s a question of “our” own survival
    now.

    Yes, we can and must. We tax the rich. We drag them into the tax net, kicking and screaming, if necessary. This is the biggest issue facing Pakistan right now. Bigger than Al Qaeda and bigger than the enmity with India.

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  • Sarfraz Salik
    Jul 28, 2011 - 3:25PM

    Dear Hilary, stop these wars, it will give nothing but lots of hate and extremism. why are you wasing your taxpayers money on it… be happy and others to be happy…

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  • Ahmed
    Jul 28, 2011 - 3:46PM

    @Frank:
    are you an Indian posing as a aid recipient citizen? I can tell you, US assistance is very welcome in the countries listed in this article.

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  • Ahmed
    Jul 28, 2011 - 3:51PM

    @Loneliberal PK:
    you are no Pakistani, probably Indian, because what you say is useless, and charges of corruption are always overblown, Pakistan appreciates US assistance, and needs help at a crucial junction where it is fighting a war on terror that benefits the entire world, and its economy has been hurt by this fight and any assistance is welcome. Defeating Al Qaeda and Taliban is not only helpful for Pakistan but the entire world, so Pakistan is fighting for the world, and its the worlds duty to step forward and help it.

    We want the US to know it has friends in Pakistan, people who have the same aims and ambitions as the US, that defeating these primative Taliban is at the core of the military objectives nowadays. We share a lot of common objectives and reducing aid will only help strengthen the Taliban.Recommend

  • Abdul Lateef
    Jul 28, 2011 - 4:02PM

    How could a needy be in a position to pay grant? Instead of showring dollars on us, it should be spent on betterment of American economy.

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  • Siraj Ahsan
    Jul 28, 2011 - 5:30PM

    If the US public feels Pakistan is not a deserving receipient which I believe most of them do and I also understand why they feel this then I dont think Pakistan should get any aid.
    One thing is clear… if this administration doesnt survive in 2012 then it anyway will not be a done deal that US will continue to bank roll our corrupt and undeserving demands…

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  • SanaUllah Baloch
    Jul 28, 2011 - 6:22PM

    @Ahmed: Only to the Govt’s of these countries not people. USA gave 10 billion to Musharraf, it was all wasted in corrupton and Chaudhry’s alongwith corrupt politicians of Musharraf era bought properties in UK, Dubai. Rest all they gave to army to buy F16at three times of the price they offered to India.

    It ll be a big favor by republicans if they will be successful in stopping further aid. USA is drowning let them spend their tax payer money on theirselves.

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  • Cautious
    Jul 28, 2011 - 9:06PM

    The USA isn’t a bad guy because the govt you elect is corrupt – that might be hard on your ego but it still is true.

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  • F Robinson
    Jul 29, 2011 - 3:13AM

    Despite generous US aid Pakistan always plays a duplicitous role on war on terror. Time has come to put an end to this deception and cut the aid.

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  • Malik Sajjad
    Jul 29, 2011 - 4:54AM

    Pakistan not need USA but USA needs Pakistan help more than any other. If cuts the Aid then lost every penny which USA spend on Afghan War, Lose War also, to survive you have to Pay “Americans”. Pakistan Never plays duplicitous role ever.Its all Indian propaganda to destabalize Pakistan.

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  • The Analyst
    Jul 29, 2011 - 6:14AM

    The question should be, if Pakistan does get US aid, will it be used for the right purposes–or for hiding and abetting terrorists and funding terror?

    I think the loan should be made conditional on Pakistan refraining from funding terrorism and corrupt politicians/military establishment not pocketing most of that the money. The loan should be closely monitored and US sould make sure that the funds are being used for for betterment of people ,and infrastructure and economic projects.

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