Coalition support fund: US Congress links Pakistan payments to NATO routes

Published: May 19, 2012

The NDAA 2013 bill approved by US House could block millions in proposed payments to Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: 

Though the deed, as it were, has all but been done, the US has shown Islamabad what the repercussions could have been. 

US lawmakers vented their frustration on Friday with the closure of Nato supply routes by Pakistan as they debated an annual defence policy bill that seeks $642.5 billion in military spending for fiscal 2013.

House of Representatives lawmakers debating the National Defence Authorisation Act voted almost unanimously (412 to 1 votes) for an amendment that could block up to $650 million in proposed payments to Pakistan unless Islamabad lets coalition forces resume shipment of war supplies across its territory.

Pakistan, for the current fiscal, has budgeted $1.34 billion, or Rs118.7 billion, on account of Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursement – but the US has not released the amount yet. Outstanding CSF dues at present amount to $2.5 billion.

Pakistan had closed down the Nato supply routes in reprisal for a US air raid on border posts that had killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in November, last year.

Officially, the Pakistani government denies any agreement on the reopening of the vital land routes, but diplomatic sources say Islamabad and Washington have almost clinched a deal.

In the wake of the amendment, CFS will be released if the US defence secretary certifies that “Pakistan has opened the ground lines of communication, is allowing the transit of Nato supplies through Pakistan into Afghanistan, and is supporting the retrograde of US equipment out of Afghanistan.”

The amendment was introduced by Representative Gerald Connolly.

The Express Tribune has learnt that following the passage of the amendment, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Sherry Rehman had a series of meetings with senior Republican and Democratic leaders in the Congress.

She told the Congressional leaders that the amendment “would not help bring the (Pakistan-US) relationship back on track”. She told them that Pakistan “stood to gain more from peace and stability in Afghanistan, and it is therefore incorrect to blame Pakistan for the difficulties in Afghanistan”.

Among others, Ambassador Sherry is said to have met with Nancy Pelosi, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senators John Kerry, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin.

Criticism of Afghan war

While debating the defence policy bill, war-weary Democrats nudged President Barack Obama to speed up the withdrawal of US forces from the war zone, but Republicans blocked a debate on the issue ahead of a weekend Nato summit in Chicago to chart a way forward in the decade-long conflict.

Lawmakers debated more than 140 amendments to the policy bill, which seeks $554 billion in base defence spending for the 2013 fiscal year beginning in October and $88.5 billion for the Afghan war and other overseas operations.

The measure has drawn a veto threat from the White House because it would overturn many cuts sought by Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in order to achieve congressional budget targets set last year with the goal of cutting $478 billion in projected military spending in the next decade.

While the authorisation act sets spending limits, it does not actually appropriate funds for defence.

The pressure for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan came ahead of the two-day Chicago summit starting on Sunday where leaders will discuss the final transition to Afghan security control and the withdrawal of international forces by the end of 2014.

Earlier this week Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen invited Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the key gathering of world leaders which will discuss the Afghan endgame. Rasmussen had earlier hinted that Islamabad would be invited only if it unblocked the Nato supply routes.

Rohrabacher’s amendment vetoed

In a related move, the Congress overwhelmingly voted out the Pakistan Terrorism Accountability Act 2012 bill moved by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Three hundred and thirty-five lawmakers voted against, while 84 voted in favour of the bill introduced a week earlier in the Congress.

The bill asked the US administration to provide $50 million each to American citizens “killed as a result of actions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or support provided by the ISI to other organisations or individuals, including the Haqqani Network”.

The bill also stated that the $50 million per victim be withheld from US assistance to Pakistan.

It further asked the defence secretary to certify every month how many US citizens had been killed as a result of support by the ISI to the Haqqani Network and other organisations.

(With additional input from REUTERS)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • abdul karim
    May 19, 2012 - 5:00AM

    and we should charge them every civilian kill by dron strick.

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  • Kashif Rizwan
    May 19, 2012 - 6:00AM

    We dont need aid from the real terrorist USA.. The NATO should withdraw their army from Afghanistan..

    Recommend

  • Knotty
    May 19, 2012 - 6:11AM

    If they give 10% of their defense budget to Pakistan, there will be peace in the region forever!
    .
    It is poverty in some areas that is not letting us control extremism!
    .
    Some powers spend money and brainwash poor kids!

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 19, 2012 - 6:13AM

    Sherry Rehman in telling Congressmen that punitive $650 million slap to Pakistan isn’t going to buy Pakistan’s Love!!! This $650 million amounts to 0.1% of $642.5 billion Bill. I am sure that while Sherry is trying to mollify Congress, snake in the grass Hussain Haqqani is encourage Congress to punish Pakistan with $650 million plus certification from State Department. US holding is hostage our CSF $2.5 Billion. How cheap can Hafeez Sheikh be that he is including $1.34 Billion in his budget, which they haven’t paid us and from which they are going to cut $650 million. I guess these are the incentives he will give to PPP politicians cum businessmen as his budget incentives.

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  • May 19, 2012 - 7:00AM

    Reasonable demand. Why should Pakistan be given money from US taxpayers if there are people from Pakistan who are launching attacks on the US?

    Isn’t Pakistan a sovereign Country, as per the right wingers. Its time to exercise that sovereignty.

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  • Mirza
    May 19, 2012 - 7:33AM

    The establishment has been thinking like Taliban that “they have defeated a superpower (USSR) in Afghanistan and after that they can do the same to the US. USSR was too big for its own good and was opposed by the US money and arms. Taliban alone did not defeat the USSR even with the help from Pakistan. We had shown our last card after we had lost the game and it is not going to bring the US goodwill back. Now the US and the world would want concrete actions and results from Pakistan before any money changes hands. The US should not pay any cash as all the $24 billion mostly in Mush’s era have evaporated. The aid must be civilian and economic with full oversight in the form of goods.

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  • critical thinker
    May 19, 2012 - 8:01AM

    President Zardari will be in for a very interesting weekend if the NATO trucks aren’t rolling. Pakistan’s true colors will be shown for the whole world to see. The NATO countries that have been suffering at the hands of their “ally” for the last six months will make his little Chicago trip quite uncomfortable.

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  • irankhan
    May 19, 2012 - 8:18AM

    Where is IK now. We had so much hope on him and PTI that he will stop NATO supplies. Looks like he doesn’t even want to make a statement.

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  • Travian
    May 19, 2012 - 9:16AM

    Ambassador Sherry is well aware that the world knows the Pakistan gains only by creating trouble in Afghanistan and is trying desperately to convince the world of the lies that help keep pakistan afloat. Sad attempt but then again she doesn’t have anything else to say or do. A Pakistani ambassador’s job is to keep lying all the time. But what is surprising is that for a ambassador she is pretty naive. When she talks about bringing the pakistan-us relationship back on track she forgets the all the US wants from pakistan is the supply route and that is all that pakistan can offer. Apart from that its just pakistan who keep harping on the relationship. The US has paid pakistan for the trade route and will keep paying. Why the fuss? The world knows your worth, why are you trying desperately to destroy the market. Afterall US feeds YOU pakistanis.

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  • Arun
    May 19, 2012 - 9:26AM

    Karin, They are not charging Pakistan. They are holding back money they are giving to Pakistan. How much money are you giving to US?

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  • Pollack
    May 19, 2012 - 9:29AM

    @Kashif Rizwan: ”
    We dont need aid from the real terrorist USA..”

    You should say that to General Kaylani. He seems to disagree with you. All this drama is about aid to Pakistan.

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  • Imran Con
    May 19, 2012 - 9:44AM

    “She told the Congressional leaders that the amendment “would not help bring the (Pakistan-US) relationship back on track”.”

    Yeah, I don’t think she gets the context. It could be taken two ways and she chose the wrong one. That’s not something intended to get anything back on track. That’s something intended for if it doesn’t get back on track.

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    May 19, 2012 - 10:03AM

    Hasnt the new Ambassador swung opinion in the US Senate in favor of Pakistan……412 vs 1.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Ooooops its the other way round !

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  • Polpot
    May 19, 2012 - 10:05AM

    “Coalition support fund: US Congress links Pakistan payments to Drone Attacks
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Next headlines.

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  • gp65
    May 19, 2012 - 11:07AM

    “She told the Congressional leaders that the amendment “would not help bring the (Pakistan-US) relationship back on track”.”

    And the US is saying that if the NATO supply routes are not open they really do not see any relationship, so the question of paying to bring it on track does not arise.

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  • Shabbir Husain Qureshi
    May 19, 2012 - 12:53PM

    How long Pakistan shall look towards America.? Pak politicians dealing the lives of Muslims against $ 6 millions. Now time arrieved that Pak. people collectively obstacal the NATO supply by force. Surprisingly why Imran Khan kept mum on this issue. Is there any share of dollars among all political parties ?

    Recommend

  • FactCheck
    May 19, 2012 - 2:13PM

    @Kashif Rizwan:

    You speak as if Afghanistan belongs to Pakistan, it doesn’t.

    Recommend

  • kamran ahmed
    May 19, 2012 - 3:44PM

    Why really we should bother about this money .who need this money?
    ,who will be the beneficery? Pakistan nation and peoples of Pakistan
    answer is NO this money needed for ruling class,civil &miltary establishment and it will go to their pockets and to their accounts.In last years what ever ecnomical add we recived did it brought any change to life of poor pakistanies answer is no again
    as a nation we should learn to live within our means and should work hardRecommend

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