WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives has passed several amendments that seek to restrict US military aid to Pakistan, ignoring a White House warning that such moves would harm bilateral relations.
The measures are included in the National Defence Authorisation Act that the House passed on Thursday with 277 votes to 147. The bill, as adopted by the House, requires the US administration to certify that Pakistan has met certain conditions before releasing $450 million in aid.
Last week, the House Armed Services Committee had endorsed this bill.
“Pakistan has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani network senior leaders and mid-level operatives,” says one of the conditions.
Another condition, added by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, requires the US Defence Secretary to certify to Congress that “Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the United States to persecute minority groups seeking political or religious freedom”.
The House also adopted Mr Rohrabacher’s a sense of the Congress move, stating: “Dr Shakil Afridi is an international hero and that the government of Pakistan should release him immediately from prison”.
A court in Peshawar sentenced Dr Afridi in 2012 to 33 years in prison for his alleged links to militants. The physician denies the allegation.
That sentence was overturned and Dr Afridi is now awaiting trial on another charge.
The bill also requires an assurance that Pakistan is not letting the Haqqani network use North Waziristan as a safe haven and is actively coordinating with Afghanistan’s government to fight the network along their border.
The House version of the NDAA, however, is not the final version of the legislation. It must be combined with a Senate bill before it is sent to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign, or veto it.
But Pakistan does not have many sympathisers in the US Senate either.
Earlier this month, Senator Bob Corker used his authority as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee to prevent the administration from using US funds to subsidise an F-16 deal with Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2016