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Congress approves defence bill, CSF for Pakistan

Updated December 14, 2014

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In this photo, US President Obama addressing a joint session of Congress in Washington. — AP/File
In this photo, US President Obama addressing a joint session of Congress in Washington. — AP/File

WASHINGTON: The US Congress has approved a massive defence spending bill for 2015, including a provision that extends the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for Pakistan for a year.

The provision is part of an attached bill known as `S. 2410’ and includes some new conditions on releasing CSF reimbursements to Pakistan.

The final approval for the $584.2 billion bill came on Friday evening, when the US Senate also approved it.

The House of Representatives has already passed the bill, which now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign it into a law.

The bill, now known as the National Defence Authorisation Act, 2015, includes $63.7bn in overseas contingency operations, which was previously called the US-led war against terror. Support to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq come from this provision.

Despite opposition from President Obama, the bill renewed a ban on transferring detainees from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the mainland.

The provision that concerns Pakistan, however, is included in S. 2410, which was attached to the original bill by the US Senate.

Besides other issues, S. 2410 deals directly with US efforts to counter terrorism and supervises the CSF, which reimburses allied nations for fighting terrorists. The provision clarifies that Pakistan cannot receive more than a billion dollars in a year from this fund.

Pakistan received $370 million from this fund in October this year. The annual imbursements are made in four instalments.

The final text shows that the support fund for Pakistan has been extended till US fiscal year 2015.

Of the total amount of reimbursements and support authorised for Pakistan during fiscal year 2015, $300m shall not be eligible for the waiver unless the US Secretary of Defence certifies to the Congressional defence committees that Pakistan has “undertaken military operations in North Waziristan that have contributed to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network in Pakistan”.

The secretary will also be required to certify that Pakistan has taken steps that have demonstrated a commitment to “ensuring that North Waziristan does not return to being a safe haven for the Haqqani network”.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and every six months thereafter, the Secretary of Defence shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State, submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the nature and extent of bilateral security cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.

Published in Dawn December 14th , 2014