WASHINGTON: The Ame­rican Congress has authorised up to $700 million in Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to reimburse Pakistan for activities carried out in support of US operations in Afghanistan.

The authorisation is included in the reconciled text of the House and Senate versions of the 2018 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA-2018), which was released on Thursday.

The reconciled version makes $350m of $700m available to Pakistan under the CSF contingent upon certification from the secretary of defence that Pakistan is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani network.

See: US trims Pakistan military aid over ‘Haqqani inaction’

The NDAA urged the defence department to monitor Washington’s security assistance to Pakistan and ensure that the country did not use it to support militant groups.

It said the US administration would release the restricted amount of $350m if the secretary of defence certified to the congressional committees that Pakistan continued to conduct military operations that were contributing to disrupting safe havens, fundraising and recruiting efforts, and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

The secretary will also have to certify that Pakistan took steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani network and LeT from using Pakistani territory as a safe haven and for fundraising or recruiting efforts.

The certification would include a declaration that Pakistan was making an attempt to coordinate with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants along the border, and Pakistan had shown progress in arresting and prosecuting senior leaders and mid-level operatives of the Haqqani network and LeT.

In the last two years, two successive US defence secretaries — Ashton Carter and James Mattis — refused to give such a certification, thus preventing the administration to release the funds.

The reconciled version also expresses concern about the alleged persecution of various political or religious groups in Pakistan, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Baloch, Sindhi and Hazara.

The bill urges the secretary of defence to ensure that Pakistan will not use any assistance provided by the United States to persecute minority groups.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2017

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