In a setback to Pakistan, the US has blocked $300 million military aid to it after Defence Secretary Ashton Carter declined to give a certification to the Congress that Pakistan is taking sufficient action against the dreaded Haqqani network.
In the absence of Congressional certification, the Pentagon has blocked disbursement of $300 million to Pakistan under Coalition Support Fund, which is essentially reimbursement money for the expenses made by Pakistan Army in support of US operations in Afghanistan.
“The funds (USD 300 million) could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the (Defence) Secretary has not yet certified that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network per the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) requirement,” Pentagon Spokesman Adam Stump said.
Pakistan has reimbursed USD 700 million of the USD one billion they were authorised in fiscal year 2015 under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).
“With the Secretary’s decision, there is no additional FY15 CSF available to Pakistan,” Stump said.
The Washington Post, which first reported about it, described this withholding of US military assistance to Pakistan as a “potential blow” to US-Pak ties.
Noting that June 30 was the deadline for the Department of Defence to submit its omnibus reprogramming request to Congress, Stump said in order to meet that deadline Carter requested a reprogramming of USD 300 million remaining in 2015 Coalition Support Funds originally authorised for Pakistan.
“The secretary decided to request reprogramming of the funds to retain the ability to use those funds for other requirements,” he said, adding that this decision “does not reduce” the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over the last two years.
“We continue to be encouraged by Pakistan’s operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the FATA. 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,” Stump said.
Pakistan has been authorised USD 900 million in fiscal 2016 CSF. Of that, USD 350 Million is subject to a Secretary of Defence certification that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network, he said.
“Pakistan is the largest recipient of CSF reimbursements, having received roughly USD 14 billion since 2002,” Stump said.
“This is the first time there’s been a Secretary Defence’s certification required,” he added.
The Haqqani Network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan, as well as Afghan government and civilian targets.
The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.