US Congress moves to limit foreign assistance to Pakistan

Published: December 17, 2011
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No number for economic aid to Pakistan, leaving Obama administration to specify it in consultation with Congress. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

No number for economic aid to Pakistan, leaving Obama administration to specify it in consultation with Congress. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday outlining the foreign aid section of the new US spending plan for fiscal year 2012, which began on October 1 and the Democratic-run Senate was expected to pass it by this week’s end.

Aid in war zones helped boost the overall amount the United States was willing to commit to foreign assistance in a time of budget scarcity, despite deep cuts advocated by budget hawks in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

But numerous countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, still could see a decline or even a halt to US foreign assistance if they do not meet conditions attached to the legislation.

The legislation provides $42.1 billion in regular funding for the State Department and foreign aid in 2012, which is a cut of more than $6 billion from the 2011 level.

The legislation allocates $850 million for a fund to help Pakistan’s military develop counter-insurgency capabilities to fight militants within its borders. This is a slight increase from last year’s $800 million but less than the $1.1 billion President Obama requested for the fund in 2012.

However, a massive defense bill Congress passed on Thursday freezes 60 percent of this amount, or $510 billion, until the US defense secretary provides lawmakers with assurances that Pakistan is working to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs). US lawmakers say that many Afghan bombs that kill US troops are made with fertilizer smuggled by militants across the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

No number was included for economic aid to Pakistan, leaving the Obama administration to specify the amount in consultation with Congress. This is a comedown for Pakistan; in each of the past three years, about $1 billion or more in economic aid for Pakistan was written into spending bills, in part to meet pledges made under 2009 legislation sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar.

Economic as well as security aid was made conditional on Pakistan’s cooperation in fighting militants such as the Haqqani network. Many lawmakers have been calling for aid to Pakistan to be reduced since US special forces found and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.

The 2012 spending plan is a mixed bag, said Liz Schrayer, the executive director of the US Global Leadership Coalition, which advocates for diplomacy and development aid.

“In the short term, we are pleased the agreement avoids the deep and disproportionate cuts to these programs from earlier versions of the bill … However, in the long-run, the cuts to funding for non-war related program is of grave concern given the challenges and turbulence in the world today.”

John Norris of the Center for American Progress think-tank said the cut to USAID operations was significant, “but it doesn’t look like a cut that would grind operations to a halt, bringing messy contingency planning and staff reductions.”

Still, he said “there is a great deal of uncertainty hanging over” US foreign aid.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Javed Afridi
    Dec 17, 2011 - 3:03PM

    However, a massive defense bill Congress passed on Thursday freezes 60 percent of this amount, or $510 billion, ??? until the US defense secretary provides lawmakers with assurances that Pakistan is working to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Recommend

  • Iron hand
    Dec 17, 2011 - 3:03PM

    Hear that? That’s the sound of the other shoe dropping. No more business as usual on either side of the US – Pakistan “alliance.”

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  • Akhtar
    Dec 17, 2011 - 3:26PM

    No worries. China has trillions of dollars in surplus & we must demand aid from china

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  • buttjee
    Dec 17, 2011 - 3:41PM

    Get rid of US aid to redeem Pakistan’s sovereignty. Impose heavy taxes on the movement of NATO supplies through Pakistan and make money to meet the shortfall in the budget.

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  • Javed
    Dec 17, 2011 - 4:58PM

    @Akhtar: Once a beggar always a beggar.

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  • Zeeeeeee..........
    Dec 17, 2011 - 5:02PM

    @buttjee: I strong agree with u butt jeee…..

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  • FactCheck
    Dec 17, 2011 - 5:04PM

    “The legislation freezes aid to Pakistan until the secretary can certify that Islamabad is cooperating on counterterrorism, including taking steps to prevent terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network from operating in the country”.

    Preventing Haqqani group is not going to happen easily and the aid is not coming any time soon either. Keep on beating your chest and yell sovereignty.

    Where is the guy with all the money in Pakistan to buy US over three times? You are going to need him to give you all a loan.

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  • baljinder singh
    Dec 17, 2011 - 5:22PM

    in future not a single cent to the begger,s

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Dec 17, 2011 - 5:45PM

    @bajider singh
    Its not free what they get from this amount and u know beter if not then read the conditions and india also is not big thing u guys consdired world biggest beggers if u see the world poverty line.

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  • Hassan
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:21PM

    Finally. I like how they call it assistance.

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  • Rafiq
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:53PM

    Pakistan’s economy was running on this aid.. now we will surpass India in poverty.We should demand our share from China.. They are our all weather friends.We should tell them we dont want high himalays or depth of oceans, all we want is a few billion dollars

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  • MarkH
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:54PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    What? No they aren’t. I’ve never heard them tagged with that label. Big surprise it’s coming from a Pakistani with lifelong wounded pride.

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  • Pro Pakistan
    Dec 17, 2011 - 6:56PM

    @baljinder singh:

    Most Pakistanis will welcome No Aid from USA even though our economy is not in the best of the shapes i wonder why India is still Aids reliant our as u said why Indians are still begging.

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  • 3 Pakistani Soldiers Dead in IED Blast
    Dec 17, 2011 - 8:12PM

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/17/three-pakistani-soldiers-killed-in-explosion-officials.html

    Its not just US soldiers who are dying, an equal number of Pakistani soldiers are dying daily too, so does the US think we’re killing our own soldiers too?

    Washington is clueless.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Dec 17, 2011 - 8:20PM

    @Akhtar:

    “A Friend in need is a friend indeed”.

    China now says: SOLLY, A friend who is in need is no friend of mine.

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  • Raj
    Dec 17, 2011 - 8:29PM

    What does US Aid to Pakistan mean? Taxing the poor people of USA and giving the money to the rich people of Pakistan. Both countries will benefit if the US Aid is completely stopped.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 17, 2011 - 8:45PM

    Controlling IED”s is something that most countries would attempt without being asked — so what’s the big deal?

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  • Grace
    Dec 17, 2011 - 9:59PM

    @baljinder singh: That’s right- not a single cent because Pakistan donesn’t deserve a cent but should charge billions for transport fees and services. No need for any aid, just pay the same you pay to the Russians and Central Asians for transit rights.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 17, 2011 - 10:30PM

    Pakistan will become self-reliant only when the foreign aid is either stopped or not taken by her.

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Dec 17, 2011 - 10:48PM

    @baljinder singh: Very bad taste

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  • mohammad naeem
    Dec 17, 2011 - 10:58PM

    our mutual distrust apart US reducing their aid to other counteries may b due to internal conditions also as OCCUPY movement will intesify in 2012 and us economy already burded with trillions of loan.

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  • Cosmo
    Dec 18, 2011 - 2:21AM

    @Pro Pakistan:
    O hero, we have donated more than 2billion to afganistan. Buy the way it is 500 times more than what china gave u for the floods. Infact india donated 25 million to pakistan alone for floods. Remeber your country owe a lot to india n the world. And it is not terrorism that am talking about.

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  • aceleaf
    Dec 18, 2011 - 7:05AM

    Time of conspiracy theories is over. Aid is not begging, its price of cooperation. Pakistan cooprated with US & paid. Non coopration will earn no dollars.
    China or any other country doesnt want any dirty work to be done. So why should they pay aid sort of a thing.
    Find a client like Saudi Arabia promote their state ideology & u’ll be paid.

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  • Wasim
    Dec 18, 2011 - 9:12AM

    Have some self-respect people. No one respects a begger. This stop in foreign aid can be a blessing in dusguise for Pakistan.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 18, 2011 - 9:33AM

    @baljinder singh:
    Your comment is unwarranted and indecent.

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  • F Robinson
    Dec 18, 2011 - 9:48AM

    Despite our massive US aid Pakistan always plays a duplicitous role in everything As far as Afghanistan is concerned, however, Pakistan is acting to all intents and purposes as an enemy of the United States There is no prospect at all of the Pakistani military abandoning its support for the Afghan Taliban or the Haqqani network. The most that U.S. aid and pressure can achieve will be to keep Pakistani support fairly covert and limited. Instead of pushing at a Pakistani door that will never open, the Obama administration instead should treat Pakistan as a sponsor of the terror and on that basis involve Pakistan in talks on Afghanistan.

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  • Omer
    Dec 18, 2011 - 10:22AM

    Thank God for this block in aid. Now we can get back to being self-reliant. But wait, this involves coming up with a strategy and policy.

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  • shoaib sultan
    Dec 18, 2011 - 11:53AM

    @R S Johar, i know it hurts what Baljinder Singh wrote …. but it is true ! what is the exact meaning of AID = very much the same as CHARITY … who do you give charity to mostly…??? . UNLESS we as a nation to not accept reality we will never progress …. is it very important for some one to tell us this fact that WE DO TAKE AID IN THE MOST HAPPY WAY POSSIBLE.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Dec 18, 2011 - 12:07PM

    Aid was never a Pakistan’s requirement,It was American’s requirement to remain involved into our all departments and forced and pitched us against all our neighbours. Now chances of interfering into our systems finishes,Thanks to ALLAH and USA.

    Recommend

  • buttjee
    Dec 18, 2011 - 8:41PM

    @baljinder singh:
    Thanks for the favour. Only in this way people will learn to live within their resources.

    Recommend

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