Defence budget: US Congress clears Pakistan aid freeze bill

Published: December 16, 2011

The bill restricts aid to Pakistan, subject to tangible efforts in curbing flow of fertiliser and IEDs into Afghanistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: The US Senate on Thursday passed the National Defense Authorisation Act for the fiscal year 2012 with 86 senators voting for, and 13 against the bill, agreeing to freeze close to $700 million in aid to Pakistan.

Prior to the passage of the bill, the Senators debated the language and clauses pertaining to military detention of individuals in terrorism-related charges. The bill will now be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature before it becomes law.

The bill, which also places sanctions on Iran, calls for a hold on 60 per cent of Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund over the issue of Pakistan failing to act against the flow of IEDs, and raw materials for bombs.

The bill requires that the Secretary of Defense submit a report “that would” include a strategy for enhancing Pakistan‘s efforts to counter improvised explosive devices (IED) and information on whether Pakistan is making significant efforts to implement a strategy to counter IEDs.”

Earlier, the White House had announced it would veto the NDAA due to clauses pertaining to the detention of US citizens in terror-related charges. On Wednesday, after the House and Senate representatives changed the language of the bill in conference meetings, the White House announced it would not veto the bill after it was passed by Senate.

Addressing the State Department press briefing on Thursday, spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, “What this piece of legislation requires is that the Administration make certain certifications as to how our general relationship with Pakistan is going in certain categories in order to release the money, but this is not about cutting funding or freezing funding.”

She explained that the bill would not whole sole end aid to Pakistan, that it only added a certification requirement to release aid. “We’re working on setting the funding levels with the Congress. It is about imposing on the Administration certain certification requirements before we would release the money that the Congress would give. This is very similar to procedures that we have on other kinds of money for countries around the world,”Nuland said, adding “In addition, I would say that they usually include some kind of waiver authorities for the Secretary.”

Addressing some suggestions in part of the Pakistani press that the certifications may be yet another form of impingement of Pakistan’s sovereignty, she said “And I’d also like to say that this in no way impinges on Pakistani sovereignty. We’ve seen some strange assertions in the Pakistani press, which are inaccurate.”

The US Embassy in Islamabad has also issued a press release to “clarify” the contents of the bill. According to the press release, the bill does not cut assistance, but includes a reporting requirement. “Once the Secretary of Defense certifies that Pakistan is cooperating in our joint efforts to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the funds will be released. Assistance conditioned to reporting requirements is not new, nor are such reporting requirements specific to Pakistan. This is standard practice in nearly every country that receives US military assistance.”

Updated from Print Edition (below):

After days of hammering out the details of the National Defence Authorisation Act 2011, the US House of Representatives voted 283-136 to pass the bill that calls for a major chunk of military assistance to Pakistan to be frozen.

The Senate also voted on Thurs­day 86-13 to pass the bill. It now only awaits the US president’s signature for authorisation. The bill would freeze roughly $700 million in aid to Pakistan pending assurances that Islamabad has taken steps to thwart militants who use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against US-led forces in Afghanistan.

The bill calls for only 40% of Pakistan Counterinsurgency Funds to be released – the rest of the amount can only be released after the Department of Defence issues a report stating that Pakistan has made progress in stemming the flow of ammonium nitrate and IEDs.

Govt criticises US move

Pakistan strongly criticised on Thursday the Congress legislation to block aid in a latest sign of simmering tensions between the two uneasy allies.

“We believe that the move in the US Congress is not based on facts and takes narrow vision of the overall situation hence wrong conclusions are unavoidable,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters on Thursday during the weekly FO briefing.

However, the US embassy in Islamabad was quick to downplay the Congress move. A statement pointed out that the current draft of the Act does not cut $700 million in military aid to Pakistan. Rather, it includes a reporting requirement, it added.

“In this instance, once the defence secretary certifies that Pakistan is cooperating in our joint efforts to combat improvised explosive devices, the funds will be released,” the statement said.

It went on to say that assistance conditioned to reporting requirements is not new, nor are such reporting requirements specific to Pakistan.

“This is standard practice in nearly every country that receives US military assistance.”

Aid cut linked to Pakistan’s reaction to Nato attack?

However, the development is seen as being linked with Pakistan’s sharp reaction to last month’s Nato attacks that killed 24 soldiers.

The November 26 incident prompted Islamabad to shut down Nato supplies and review the decade-old cooperation with the US.

Basit said Pakistan is in process of “reviewing our terms of engagement with US, Nato and Isaf in their entirety.” “Let me emphasise the issue of Pakistan’s sovereignty, is non-negotiable,” he added.

“I think the real question has to be what has been done on the Afghan side of the border,” he said. “Pakistan cannot be held responsible for weaknesses and loopholes on the other side of the border,” he added.

Bill calls for indefinite detention of US citizens

The bill also contains clauses pertaining to the military detention of civilians in terror-related charges.

Earlier, human rights organisations and several members of Congress had expressed reservations that the bill would allow the indefinite detention of US citizens.

The House and Senate committee worked to change the language of the bill, after which the White House announced on Wednesday that it would not be vetoing the bill.

(Read: Four myths about Kerry-Lugar-Berman)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.

Reader Comments (52)

  • A Fahran
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:38AM

    Hope atleast now the rulers and ISI will tell its people the real story why Pakistan is getting isolated. If son a thief, the father cannot keep the family united under pride banner!!!! Double dealing and duplicity.

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  • usman
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:39AM

    Wow, highly appreciated. On the other hand, if govt start collecting $1500 (which govt is thinking right now) for each truck passing through pakistan carring ISAF stuff, we will eventually collect same money in dignified way, and after all, we will not be labeled as beggers.

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  • Boy
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:45AM

    It is a step towards Pakistan’s true independence. Our leaders have eaten up this aid, and sold our nation to them. This can only mean good.

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  • Masood Nasir
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:46AM

    If Pakistani nation gets united and stops the corruption from top to bottom, Pakistan will not need any aid. But I doubt this miracle can happen without a Messiah.

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  • sam
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:49AM

    It brought back memories of 90s when Pakistan a US ally against Soviet Union was hit by US sanctions after Soviet withdrawl from Afghanistan. Pakistan was brought down to knees by Pressler Amendments. US blockade is good for Pakistan. No more easy money. you will have to work hard now.

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  • ProudPakistani
    Dec 16, 2011 - 4:01AM

    Shukar ALLAH..

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  • fatima
    Dec 16, 2011 - 4:02AM

    good for nothing aid

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  • nitin
    Dec 16, 2011 - 4:04AM

    high time for pak army and ISI to realise their double game will not go unnoticed. Stop backing islamist terrrorist make peace with India and get rid of LET, hafiz saeed and all the extermist before its too late…my friends in pak

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  • Khurram
    Dec 16, 2011 - 4:05AM

    That is the price we shall now pay for playing on both sides of the road.

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  • American
    Dec 16, 2011 - 4:13AM

    @Masood Nasir:
    Many Messiahs have come and gone.
    They took a lot of Pakistan’s money and went to live in Paris, Dubai, and London.
    Are you still looking for the next Messiah ?

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  • Maryam
    Dec 16, 2011 - 4:53AM

    @Masood Nasir: You are wrong. I want to see people like you in the streets tomorrow to demand from the government with loud screams ” Tax us more, Tax us more” and then I have no doubt that Pakistan will not need any aid. Please stop this corruption mantra and bla bla. Come out to the street and shout TAX US TAX US. I am sure you will not. If you are not coming out then please do pray that United States do not stop our aid otherwise our poor people will suffer. You and me who have our own computer and enjoying a good DSL connection with songs of Lata on youtube in our ears and eating chips with every word are not going to suffer. Please do some ghairat by paying more taxes or just stop this ghairat ghairat.

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  • Nadir
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:05AM

    Lets see how may tax payers will put their money where there mouth is.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:18AM

    @Masood Nasir:
    That ‘if’ is bigger than the Mount Everest that you started with but you are absolutely right that if united and no corruption, we do not need any assistance from anywhere else. I believe anti corruption people may be even more corrupting than average person.
    I see quite difficult times ahead for Pakistan unless we completely stop nurturing terrorism and change our foreign policy based on peace and cooperation in the international arena.

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  • Dr.A.K. Tewari
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:30AM

    Yes , the aid should not be given to the govt. of Pakistan instead it should flow through tax on supply to the ISAF from Pakistan . The fight against terrorism need the help of Pakistan for a long period for which we have to support the people of Pakistan in a dignified manner and should operate in their terroteries with their concent if possible .

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  • KH Mian
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:51AM

    Pakistan is and will remain a pathetic beggar.

    One wonders why USA keeps on wasting its time flogging this “shameless professional and hardened beggar” as it has absoloutely no effect.

    Pakistan would be a better country if it were to dedicate its energy in building itself as a truly sovreign nation than spending its little energy on passing the begging bowl around the world for the last 60 years.

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  • Chaudhry Ekhlas
    Dec 16, 2011 - 6:29AM

    OMG, thats really a bad news for Pakistan and Pakistanis… We needed this money to pay our brave army, the government employees, fix roads etc etc… Now what to do, where to go, how to feed our hungry and poor people??? What if we really stop taliban to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan and promiss not to do it again and ask India for forgivness etc…Otherwise Pakistan and Pakistanis are doomed…We need helping hands…OMG…I am scared!!!

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  • Usman Sherazi
    Dec 16, 2011 - 6:31AM

    Those blaming the US for cutting down the aid are fools. Those expecting aid after the bitterness caused by multiple US actions and the unending blame game despite losing thousands almost 30 thousand civiliand and over 5000 troops, are even greater fools.
    It’s time to be realistic and learn to live within our means.
    Beggers can’t be choosers, it is said. Pakistan must, therefore, stop begging, focus on increasing its tax revenues, try to cut balooning deficit, focus a lot more on education, industry and without any doubt make peace with India in order to reduce its exorbitant spending on defence under extremely difficult, challenging circumstances.
    Loud talk….isn’t it??

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  • pakistani baloch
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:10AM

    thanx GOD ……..

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  • A.Z.Khan
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:27AM

    Once Again Americans Proved , How much they are unreliable , they only matter their interest , if you are bowing on their demands they give u Aid other wise they have so many unrealistic points for cutting it .
    Being a Pakistani , we condemned their bribe against our brother’s ( soldiers ) life …..
    Salute to Chief ,Army & Respectable Agencies ….

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  • AD
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:37AM

    Finally, someone with brains made a right decision !!! we don’t want the money and pakistani military should now stand up and try to stabilize the country rather than relying on US aid to get their own soldiers killed. WE DON”T WANT AMERICAN AID!! it has done nothing for our country except ruin our country and lost alot of innocent lives.

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  • F Robinson
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:38AM

    United States and Pakistan should patch up their differences as soon as possible,

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  • Dec 16, 2011 - 7:49AM

    @nitin:
    High time you stop occupying the following lands belonging to Pakistan;

    Jammu and Kashmir
    Junagarh
    Manvadar
    Sir Creek
    Siachen

    High time you stop sending terrorists into Pakistan, supporting arming the criminal Tereek-e-Taliban, stop harbouring Bramadagh Bugti.

    Uphold the UN resolutions to give self determination to Kashmiris and then we can discuss peace.

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  • Abraham
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:54AM

    Pakistan begged for money and India begged for power.
    Pakistan is drifting from US to China and India from Russia to US.
    Pakistan chose to concentrate on Kashmir and India on development.

    Its the matter of choice. We choose our leaders and they choose the destiny of our nation.
    Corruption is there on both the sides, Today we chose Anna Hazare to fight corruption.

    Today US remains the most powerful nation and its better not to annoy it. you have seen USSR reduce to Russia, Pakistan is too small. China is next.

    India believes in Chankya neeti (Chanakya’s politics), that has benefited it so far.

    Play the game by the rules of this world. Aggression will not help.Recommend

  • Bling Bling
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:55AM

    Had it been any other leader, they would have struck a deal with them to keep the aid flowing in. Kudos to Zardari and Kiyani for not giving in.

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  • kk
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:58AM

    This is not aid. This is coalition support fund. So this amount should be paid to pakistan. This should not be called aid.

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  • AHB
    Dec 16, 2011 - 8:02AM

    Very good indeed!!!….otherwise the aid would have been cheated and poor people of Pakistan would have been mesmerized one more time……Good stuff White House!!

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  • Wasim
    Dec 16, 2011 - 9:29AM

    Refuse the carrot-on-a-stick aid, we dont need it. We will be better off without it. This “aid” will do far more harm for Pakistan in the long-term.

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  • Wasim
    Dec 16, 2011 - 9:30AM

    @Abraham: It was the Afghan and Pakistanis who reduced USSR, same will happen to U.S.

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  • rikky
    Dec 16, 2011 - 9:37AM

    @alansar:

    just click on its name,it will divert you to rupee news

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  • Dec 16, 2011 - 9:44AM

    Or Rather Low standard practice

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  • shaan
    Dec 16, 2011 - 10:27AM

    Hmm all aid should be cut.

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  • Dec 16, 2011 - 10:36AM

    This is something the Right-Wing in Pakistan and the whole of India will like to see. How often does that happen!

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  • Paki-Australian
    Dec 16, 2011 - 11:23AM

    CHEERS!! Stop all sorts of aid to PK. International foreign Aid ever aids the average pak people? NO!!Recommend

  • Farhan Kermani
    Dec 16, 2011 - 12:06PM

    good move. No point of hiding behind a veil for either USA or Pakistan when there is enough animosity on both sides.

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  • Abraham
    Dec 16, 2011 - 2:05PM

    @ All Pakistanis out there – Good to hear words of wisdom and a choice to remain independent of US. Hope the politicians are reading notes on this forum. Let the voice of people prevail. Let India and Pakistan live in peace. Let us be brothers again.

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  • Khalid Malhi
    Dec 16, 2011 - 2:56PM

    Every country in the world takes loan for their development that means whole world is a beggar which squeezes blood from them and then when they become unable to repay they are thrown into war which is not theirs.Recommend

  • Ghaznavi
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:41PM

    Pakistan wont loose anything since this money is only meant for the elite and not for tha masses. India deserves this money more than Pakistan since becoming the regional poodle for USA – now India will send its troops to Afghanistan so American lives can be saved.

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  • Patriotic
    Dec 16, 2011 - 3:59PM

    I am a Pakistani and I say YAY! it’s about time we learnt to stand up on our own feet and make wiser decisions!

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  • Dec 16, 2011 - 4:30PM

    @alansar:
    stop this nonsense of Jamu and Kashmir. It was never a part of Pakistan. I don’t understand why we are always talking about this ill-fated Kashmir. We don’t need it, we lost what we had i-e East Pakistan.Recommend

  • khalis
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:04PM

    @Khalid Malhi:
    study difference between aid and loan. pakistan is taking both. should not be ashamed of loans but aid, that too with nukes on one side is shameful

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:07PM

    With a $700 million aid budget in the pocket the Americans want value for money. As Pakistan and the U.S. just have an alliance of conveniance, there will be no charity from the U.S. side.

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  • Dr.A.K. Tewari
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:10PM

    Yes , its a high time to take the wiser discisions otherwise Pakistan is the next . India never supported the disintegration of USSR but it will do so in case of Pakistan .TAKE WISER DISCITIONS AND FORGET KASHMIR , REDUCE DDFENCE EXPENDITURES .,that will require essentially a good relation with India . Otherwise your sovereinity will be always on stake . There is no way out to reject Indo- American demand form Pakistan on the current issues as well as on the pending issues related to Kashmir and terrorism .

    Recommend

  • FactCheck
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:18PM

    @usman:
    how is it dignified?

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  • FactCheck
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:24PM

    @Masood Nasir:

    how will you accomplish this goal? how is Pak going to unite? who is going to lead them? what makes think they will be allowed to live and carry on with this effort? was this a problem that started in the last 10 years? how did it start? why did it start? how are you going to communicate to the masses by writing an English daily?

    Recommend

  • Menon
    Dec 16, 2011 - 5:38PM

    @Ghaznavi:

    India is actually loaning money to the US by buying US treasuries. Setting software development centers, buying and modernizing factories, etc.

    Your ignorance is shining through.

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  • korhimal
    Dec 16, 2011 - 6:31PM

    @Bling Bling:

    “Kudos to Zardari and Kiyani for not giving in.” Zardari and Kiyani? They are arch enemies!

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  • Jadugar
    Dec 16, 2011 - 7:15PM

    I am confident that this aid cut should not affect the common man because he was never provided as much as he was entitled to. we all know who benifitted from these aid money and they have enough not to effect them. Perhaps little austerity measure on their part is all they need to do. The common man has become immune to poor way of life.

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  • javed
    Dec 16, 2011 - 9:04PM

    let us say goodbye to us once and for all

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  • rehmat
    Dec 16, 2011 - 9:05PM

    @Chaudhry Ekhlas: You are being sarcastic but the reality is that Pakistan is struggling to pay salaries and pensions to its public sector employees. It is unable to run railways because simple Work in Progress capital is unavailable. Same story with PIA. Inability to import adequate il and gas is slowly and gradually breaking the back of the textile industry which is the largest exporter.

    You should also examine the source of the remitances and exports. 33% of your exports are to US and over 60% to US and NATO countries. Your diaspora does not live in China, Iran, North Korea and Turkey. It lives in US, UK, Canada, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

    Further mostyof your weapons are of American origina and hence you are also dependent on US for spare parts.

    Your dependence on the country you hate and its allies is much greater than you think it is.

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  • Mirza
    Dec 16, 2011 - 10:40PM

    For all the people who are demanding more money for NATO supplies and not the aid “do you prefer to be mercenary and not beggar?” Being mercenary in a civil war of Islamic Af is nothing to be proud of. Take your pick beggar or mercenary?

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  • AnisAqeel
    Dec 16, 2011 - 10:40PM

    @javed:
    O Yaw, we did it before in 1971 to USSR with the same tone you are talking about and lost East Pakistan. We did that with the Commonwealth and withdrew, the result after spitting we had to lick it back. We tore the speech in pieces right in the UNO and other delegates just mocked on us and we had to recognize Bangladesh not long after that.
    Please don’t be so sentimental and a Tarzan when we have got strength of a rat so that we may save some pride in the end. Be humble God loves it, be realist so that we may not regret latter and learn to walk along with the international community to save from being in seclusion. We don’t want to be Afghanistan or North Korea, Congo or Ethiopia and Somalia. If we are a great Muslim nation, then show it we are, instead of bluffing.

    Recommend

  • raja
    Dec 17, 2011 - 5:51PM

    @alansar,

    you have left out afgan nation which was under moguls for a couple of centuries,

    uzbek, tajic,kyrgiz stans because the moguls came from there and pakistan claims the mogul legacy.
    now, why should pak., worry about aid?
    you have nukes,you can afford ‘to eat grass for 1000 years,if need be’ as told by z.a. bhutto.
    no need to look around the world!
    never mind basic amenities or rights! after all your rich have all of them,and even more!
    but never lose sight of your foremost duty!
    that is confronting & if possible subjucating ‘kaffir’ india!
    and finally dont forget to blame india, whatever your woes!

    Recommend

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