The Obama administration may veto the draft bill of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2013 after raising several objections to specific provisions in the draft, including those related to Pakistan.
The NDAA 2013 appropriates money for the US defence budget for fiscal 2013. The draft bill was approved by the House Armed Services Committee last week, and is expected to go to the floor of the US House of Representatives this week for a vote.
In a press release, the US administration said, “The Administration strongly objects to the restriction in reimbursement for Pakistan from Coalition Support Funds and the associated certification requirements in section 1211. Taken together, the reimbursement restriction and the certification restrictions … are proposed at a particularly sensitive time and would severely constrict the Department of Defence’s ability to respond to emergent war-time coalition support requirements.”
The draft bill had proposed that the US defence secretary provide a report on the model of the reimbursements to Pakistan. The NDAA 2013 draft bill also called for a bar on preferential imports of goods and services from Pakistan, and reducing aid to 10% till Pakistan opened the Nato supply routes and extended cooperation.
If the NDAA is passed by the House of Representatives, it will have to be approved by the senate and signed by the president before it becomes part of the law.
Pakistan lambasted in foreign affairs committee
US lawmakers, however, are obviously not in the mood to be lenient with aid for Pakistan. In a hearing of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, Congressman Gary Ackerman dubbed Pakistan a ‘black hole for US aid’. In a committee session to debate US assistance and foreign policy in South Asia, Congressman Ackerman said their aid, professionals, diplomats, prayers and hopes go into Pakistan, “but nothing good comes out.” He added that it was hard to imagine a more dysfunctional relationship, and that money goes into Pakistan and emerges in bank accounts in to the Gulf.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that billions of dollars in aid have been given to Pakistan, however they have “terrorised their neighbours, and their own people”, citing the example of the people of Balochistan. Rohrabacher also pronounced Baluch as ‘bal-ook’.
The witnesses at the hearing included US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Robert Blake, who highlighted that increased trade between Pakistan and India was a positive sign.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.