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Obama signs Defence spending bill despite reservations

Obama has signed the defence spending bill seeking more transparency on the country's Pak policy.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: January 1, 2012 9:16:37 am

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a massive 662-billion defence spending bill that also seeks to suspend a big chunk of USD 1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan,despite his “serious reservations” about provisions regulating detention and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

“I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention,interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Obama said in a statement last evening after signing the bill in Hawaii,where the First Family is currently on the year-end vacation.

The USD 662-billion defence authorisation bill for the year 2012,among other things,seeks to suspend 60 per cent of USD 1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan — under the category Pakistan Counter-insurgency Fund — till Secretaries of State and Defence report to the Congress that Islamabad is making progress in the war on terror,particularly progress in strategies to counter manufacturing of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

IEDs,which are mostly manufactured in Pakistan in its illicit factories,are one of the largest factors responsible for the death of American troops in Afghanistan.

However,Obama in in his signing statement made no reference to this provision of the bill,which had drawn widespread condemnation in Pakistan and put another strain in US-Pakistan relationship.

The Obama administration has maintained that the bill under no circumstances results in suspension of US military aid to Pakistan; as being interpreted by the Pakistani media. US officials insist that the Department of Defence and the State Department would work with the government of Pakistan to meet the requirements of the bill.

They say there are no conditions on Pakistan under the bill,even as there are requirements that the Obama administration needs to meet,before the 60 per cent of the USD 1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan could be disbursed.

Under the provision of the bill,the Defence Secretary is also required to submit a report to the Congress on a discussion of US strategic objectives in Pakistan; a listing of the terrorist or extremist groups in Pakistan opposing US goals in the region and against which the US encourages Pakistan to take action; and a discussion of the gaps in capabilities of Pakistani security units that hamper ability of Islamabad to take action against these organisations.

Under the bill,signed by Obama into law,the Defence Secretary’s report to the Congress also needs to include the “metrics” that will be used to track progress in achieving the US strategic objectives in Pakistan,to track progress of Pakistan in combating the terrorists organisations.

In his statement,Obama said the defence authorization bill undermines efforts within the last several years to develop an effective and sustainable framework to deal with suspected terrorists.

This framework,he said,“allows us to maximise both our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals in rapidly developing situations.”

“The results achieved are undeniable,” he said.

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