WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said on Thursday that it will not release $300 million from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to Pakistan now because the US defence secretary has not certified that Pakistan is taking sufficient action against the Haqqani network.
“The funds could not be released to the government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary has not yet certified that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network [as] per the fiscal year 2015 National Defence Authorisation Act requirement,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement sent to the media.
The certification is required under an amendment to the act that authorises reimbursements to Pakistan from the CSF, which links the release of a sum of $300m to an annual certification to Congress.
“Pakistan has been reimbursed $700m of the $1 billion they were authorised in fiscal year 2015 from the CSF. With the secretary’s decision, there is no additional FY15 CSF available to Pakistan,” Mr Stump said.
This was the first time that the defence secretary’s certification was required for releasing the funds. Congress believes that the restriction could force Pakistan to take action against the Haqqani network.
Mr Stump also said that Defence Secretary Ashton Carter had decided to request reprogramming of the funds to “retain the ability to use those funds for other requirements”.
The deadline for the Department of Defence to submit its omnibus reprogramming request to Congress was June 30. In order to meet that deadline the defence secretary requested a reprogramming of $300m remaining in FY2015 Coalition Support Funds originally authorised for Pakistan.
The Pentagon, however, acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to stamp out terrorism from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. “This decision does not reduce the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over the last two years,” Mr Stump said.
The Pentagon also noted that Pakistan’s “efforts have reduced the ability of some militant groups to use North Waziristan and the Fata as a safe haven for terrorism”. However, “the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network continue to operate in other locations in Pakistan”.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington tried to give a positive twist to the negative development. In a statement issued to the media, it noted that CSF was one of many cooperative arrangements between Pakistan and the United States to pursue common objectives.
The embassy said that despite the US move “Pakistan will continue its fight against terrorism and ensure that areas cleared by the security forces do not slide back into the control of terrorist networks”.
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2016