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US ties Pak aid to crackdown on militants

world Updated: Sep 23, 2011 02:41 IST

Marking up pressure on Pakistan, a key US Congressional committee has voted to make security and economic aid to Pakistan conditional on its cooperation in fighting the Haqqani network, blamed for deadly attacks on US interests in Afghanistan.

The Senate Appropriations Committees action, which requires approval from the full Senate and the House of Representatives, comes as Washington has escalated pressure for action against the group amid rising tensions in relations between Pakistan and US.

In addition to the Haqqani network, the Committee has also called for action to be taken against groups like al Qaeda, Quetta Shura and Lashkar e Taiba, a Pakistani Punjab based terrorist group blamed for Mumbai attacks.

Top American officials have accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of having links with the Haqqani network, which it also blames for the latest terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Kabul.

"The bill includes strengthened restrictions on assistance for Pakistan by conditioning all funds to the government of Pakistan on cooperation against the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and other terrorist organisations, with a waiver, and funding based on achieving benchmarks," the Senate committee said in a statement. The bill provides $161.4 million for department of state operations.

The bill does not specify amounts for assistance for Pakistan but does provide $1 billion for the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Capability Fund which is $100 million below the president's request.

Chairman of joint chiefs of staff committee, admiral Mike Mullen has accused ISI of using the Haqqani network to carry out a "proxy war", and warned Islamabad to cut ties with the terror group.

In an accompanying statement, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Department of State and Foreign Operations Sub committee, said: "This year it was tasked with funding more national security programmes, many of them central to carrying out the counterterrorism strategy in South Asia."