The US has decided to reimburse $688 million to Pakistan for the cost of supporting some 140,000 coaltion troops on Af-Pak border in what appears to be a fall back to its decades-old policy of "appeasement" to seek an honourable exit from war-torn Afghanistan.
The Pentagon notified the Congress about its decision to reimburse $688 million to Pakistan, under Coalition Support Fund (CSF). Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, notified the Congress of the decision of the US Department of Defence in a letter dated December 6, 2012, a Pentagon official said.
"In making this determination, I find that the reimbursement is consistent with the national security interest of the United States and will not adversely affect the balance of power in the region," Carter wrote.
In summers the US had reimbursed USD 1.118 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) which has now crossed the $10.5 billion mark post 9/11, defence officials said.
"This is a concrete illustration that our security relations with Pakistan are indeed moving forward," a defence spokesman said.
US officials believe that without co-operation from Pakistan, which can reign in the terrorist networks, it would be an horrendous task to have an "honorable exit" from Afghanistan and logistically would require an herculean effort to bring back its equipment and troops from this war-torn country without safe passage and support from Pakistan.
As a result of which the Obama Administration, soon after its re-election, has moved quickly to take the extra step to be in the good books of Pakistan, which is all aimed towards 2014. The quite decision of Pentagon to notify the Congress to reimburse $688 million and its determination to a New York court that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its two former director generals, Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Taj, "enjoy immunity" in the case related to 26/11 case filed by the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, are simply pointers in that direction.
From the rhetoric of "complex and problematic" relationship – which had been the case now at least since May 2011 when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US commandoes in a daring raid at his hideout in Abbottabad, US officials in both private and public conversations are quick to pronounce that the relationship is back on track.
Details of this meeting, which officials asserted, signaled the re-establishment of contacts and confidence among the military leaders of the two countries, have not come out in the public.
In addition to the Defense Consultative Group meeting, there has been multiple high-level exchanges between the officials of the two countries in the last one month alone, including the one between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khan in Brussels.
Officials point out that recently there has been meeting of nearly half a dozen working groups between the two countries – some in Washington and others in Islamabad – ranging from issues on security, stability and non-proliferation to energy.
All these effort, officials insist, is aimed towards improving its relationship with Pakistan so that there is successful withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Senate and the House of Representatives in a conference on the National Defence Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2013 has authorised $1.65 billion in Coalition Support Funds to reimburse cooperating nations supporting the effort in Afghanistan.
At the same time it "limits the availability of such funds to reimburse Pakistan until the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan meets certain criteria, including securing the lines of supply through Pakistan to Afghanistan, disrupting cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, and countering the threat from improvised explosive devices," the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a statement.
The Secretary of Defence may waive these certification requirements if in the US national security interests, it said.
It also authorised the Secretary of Defence to support efforts in Pakistan to counter the flow of improvised explosive device chemical precursors.
The bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in a October 2012, to US lawmakers said that CSF have accounted for nearly half of US financial transfers to Pakistan since 2001; as of May 2011, some $8.9 billion had been disbursed.