Obama admin opposes Congress move to condition aid to Pakistan

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: May 18, 2016 00:00 IST
US President Barack Obama (R) smiles as he hosts a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington in 2013. (Reuters File)

The Obama administration is pushing back against a bipartisan move by US lawmakers to block $450 million in financial aid to Pakistan for failing to “demonstrate its commitment” and take action against the Haqqani Network.

In a statement to Congress, the administration said on Monday that the restriction sought by lawmakers would “unnecessarily complicate progress in our bilateral relationship”.

But the administration shares concerns regarding the “threat posed to our forces and interests in Afghanistan by the Haqqani Network, and we continue to engage with Pakistan at the highest levels regarding the need for concerted action specifically against the group”.

According to the National Defence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA), of the total amount of reimbursement and support authorised for Pakistan during the period beginning on October 1, 2016 and ending on December 31, 2017, $50 million would not be eligible for a national security waiver unless the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct operations against Haqqanis.

The White House statement details this and other problems the administration has with the bill — the NDAA 2017 — and adds that the president will be advised to veto it in the present form.

Lawmakers want Pakistan to act against the Haqqani Network which targets US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan.

They have accused Pakistan of being “duplicitous” on this, and forced the administration to drop its proposal to subsidise the sale of eight F-16 jets to Pakistan.

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