Two legislative amendments seeking a cut in the US aid to Pakistan have been defeated in the House of Representatives with most lawmakers arguing that it is essential to maintain ties with a nuclear armed country despite it not doing enough in the war against terrorism.
The first amendment moved by Congressman Ted Poe sought to cut funding to Pakistan from USD 900 million to USD 700 million in coalition support fund (CSF) was defeated on the House floor by a recorded vote of 191 to 230.
Another amendment moved by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking to prohibit funds from being used to provide aid to Pakistan has been defeated by a recorded vote of 84 to 236.
Seeking support for his amendment, Congressman Rohrabacher said continuation of the US aid to Pakistan will strengthen and bolster a government that has committed crimes against their own people.
“We will be then basically giving money to a government that not only represses its own people but, through its support of terrorism and terrorist organizations, threatens the people of the US and those peoples elsewhere,” he said.
However, majority of the lawmakers did not support Rohrabacher in cutting aid to Pakistan.
Three Congressmen criticized the proposed amendments. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen from New Jersey, who chairs the Defence Appropriations Committee, explained the mechanism of the CSF saying that the fund allows the Secretary of Defence to reimburse any key cooperating nation for logistical and military support. This includes providing access, specialised training to personnel, procurement and provision of supplies and equipment provided by that nation in connection with a US military operation.
Pakistan, he said, was a key route for supplying US troops in Afghanistan.
Congressman Frelinghuysen said that receipts for reimbursements were submitted by cooperating nations and vetted by the Pentagon, which “follow a strict and I say strict criteria to meet standards for reimbursement, it is all about reimbursement”.
He insisted that all payments were made in arrears and following notification to members of Congress on appropriate committees.
Mr Frelinghuysen noted that the CSF remained a critical tool to enable Pakistan to effectively deal with future challenges from the emerging US drawdown.
“It also was a cost-effective tool for the US to remain engaged in the region and with Pakistan,” he added. “We shouldn’t be abandoningPakistan, because we might actually have something even worse than what the gentleman describes if we turn our back on Pakistan,” he warned.
The ranking Democrat member of the Committee on Appropriations, Congressman Peter Visclosky also opposed the amendments. He said that US legislation had in -built oversight mechanism to ensure that funds were released only when it had been certified that Pakistanis cooperating in counterterrorism.
Congress woman Sheila Jackson Lee, co-chair of Pakistan Congressional Caucus, highlighted Pakistan’s own actions in counterterrorism.
“Over the years, I have worked with a number of persons in the Pakistani government. But, in particular, I want to emphasise that the Pakistan military, over a period of years, has fought against terrorism and suffered a great treasure in the loss of their soldiers,” she said.
“I believe it is important that we continue to collaborate and, as my two colleagues have said, that we work extensively with oversight.”
She also warned the house that Pakistan had nuclear capability and this was another reason for staying engaged with it.