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US Cong imposes tough restrictions on aid to Pak

world Updated: Oct 23, 2009 12:30 IST
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Taking on board India's concerns, the US Congress on Friday cleared a bill that sets out tough conditions on military assistance to Pakistan to make sure that these funds are not squandered or diverted to affect the "balance of power in the region".

"We can't lose sight of the very reason Pakistan receives these funds: they are a reimbursement for expenses incurred fighting terrorists and supporting US-led efforts to do the same," Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, said.

"That fight is important to our own national security, and we have to ensure that our support for it is not being
squandered or diverted. It is not only right for us to ensure that American taxpayer money does what it is intended to do, it is our duty as stewards of the national security and of taxpayer money," he said.

The Defence Authorisation Bill for 2010 includes the amendments by Menendez and Senator Bob Corker, according to
which the Obama Administration is required to give a determination that the payment is both in US national interest
and it will not affect the balance of power in the region.

India feels that the American assistance to Pakistan should be more focused on building counter-insurgency capabilities rather than conventional defence equipment which can be diverted for other purposes.

It also wants US to seek greater accountability from Islamabad in terms of how the defence assistance is used.

New Delhi's concerns were acknowledged by the US after former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf last month admitted
that American military aid during his tenure had been used to strengthen defences against India.

Washington had said it took Musharraf's statement "very seriously". US Senate voted 68-29 in favour of USD 680 billion defence spending bill, which was earlier adopted by the House of Representatives by a vote of 281-146 on October 8. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his approval.

Since 9/11 terror attacks in the US, Pakistan has received as aid approximately USD 7.6 billion to fight the "war on terrorism."

The bill says the Pentagon must certify that Islamabad is waging a "concerted" fight against al-Qaeda, Taliban, and
other militants before it can receive the massive aid package.

It directs the Pentagon to track how Pakistan uses military hardware it receives in order "to prohibit the re-transfer of such defence articles and defence services without the consent of the United States."

"This provision simply ensures that the American peoples' tax dollars are being used for their intended purpose," Republican Corker said.

The legislation also directs the White House to send lawmakers a report every 180 days on progress toward long-term
security and stability in Pakistan.