The United States on Monday denied it had issued any certification on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and said no fresh request had been sent to Congress for assistance to that country.
US ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson had announced last week Congress had notified a civilian assistance of $532 million for Pakistan, according to the Pakistani finance ministry.
News reports suggested this aid was cleared after US state department certified, as is the legal provision, that Pakistan had met all necessary conditions, including on terror.
“Congress has not been notified of a request (for fresh assistance for Pakistan),” said state department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Monday. She also dismissed suggestions in reports implying US “approval of progress made” by the US.
Dealing with aid requests in the past, Psaki said, the state department “employed the national interest waiver provided for in the legislation in part because all the criterion … required to be met to be met has not been met”.
It is still not clear where that leaves $532 million assistance announced by the US ambassador — if it’s fresh fund, or the result of an earlier request.
Reacting to earlier reports, India had said it does “not believe that Pakistant is showing sustained commitment or making significant effort or ceasing support or dismantling bases of operations of the Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, the Haqqani network and quite possibly the al-Qaeda”.
The aid, given under Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, was announced last week in Islamabad by US ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson at a meeting with finance minister Ishaq Dar.
Congressional sources said a request for waiver was indeed made in July 2014, but Psaki said the last waiver request was in 2013, and that’s when the last time assistance was released for Pakistan under this legislation.
A waiver, said Congressional sources, should not be confused for certification. The waiver, said a source, indicated, in fact, the administration was not fully convinced of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Under the Act, any aid to Pakistan — civilian or non-civilian (military, security related) is conditional upon the administration certifying that Pakistan was “cooperating with the United States in counterterrorism efforts against the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al-Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organizations, including taking steps to end support for such groups and prevent them from basing and operating in Pakistan and carrying out cross border attacks into neighboring countries”. And there are other conditions, such as prevention of nuclear proliferation.
But to give the administration flexibility the law allowed it to seek waiver of those conditions in national security interests, only for security-related aid in the original law, extended to cover all kinds of assistance in 2012.
Pakistan is supposed to get $1.5 billion in aid under this Act over five years, starting 2009. But it has never been given the full amount even once.
And,“Only once did the Admin issue a blanket certification – in mid-2012,” said a congressional source, adding, “Since then, aid flows (to Pakistan) have continued only because the Admin has exercised the national security waiver authority included in legislation.”
The Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act (John Kerry was then a senator) had originally conditioned security aid only. But since 2012, all financial assistance to Pakistan has been made contingent upon state department certification.