A second US Congressional panel moved to put restrictions on Washington’s aid to Pakistan on Wednesday, with a subcommittee of the powerful House Appropriations Committee voting unanimously to slash the US foreign aid budget by 17.8%.
On Wednesday afternoon, the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that attached tougher conditions on aid to Pakistan than the ones attached by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“With respect to countries that have provided challenges to US diplomacy and foreign policy, funds are only made available after these governments have met tough conditions,” said Hal Rogers, a Republican congressman from Kentucky and the chairman of the appropriations committee, the most powerful committee in the United States Congress when it comes to financial matters.
In the category for Economic Support Funds, the bill states that none of the funds can be appropriated for assistance to Pakistan until the Secretary of State reports to the committee that the funds “will only be provided for programs in the United States’ national security interest that decrease extremism through economic development.”
Other sections of the bill state that funds cannot be made available to Pakistan until the Secretary of State “in consultation with the Secretary of Defence and the Director of National Intelligence, certifies
and reports to the Committees on Appropriations in writing” about Pakistan’s co-operation with the US in dismantling nuclear proliferation networks and making demonstrable progress in fighting against terrorist groups, assisting the US in its investigation of whether an “official or unofficial support network in Pakistan for Osama Bin Laden” existed.
The bill also says that Pakistan, including elements from the Pakistan Army and intelligence agency, must cease to support extremist groups, particularly those attacking US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The bill also outlines that Pakistan must prevent Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad from operating in Pakistani territory and carrying out cross border attacks in neighbouring countries.
Interestingly, the bill also says that the Secretary of State must testify that, “the security forces of Pakistan are not materially and substantially subverting the political or judicial processes of Pakistan.”
While Republicans and Democrats on the committee disagree on cuts to foreign aid, they seemed united in their approval of attaching more conditions to aid to Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2011.