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US House ties rights knot to aid to Pakistan

June 15, 2013 09:59 IST

The US House of Representative passed an amendment linking the American military aid with the human rights in Pakistan, in particular those of religious and ethnic minorities.

The amendment moved by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher on Friday requires the US Defence Secretary to certify that Pakistan is not using its military to "persecute minority groups for their legitimate and nonviolent political and religious beliefs".

The amendment specifically names the Balochi, Sindhi and Christian minorities, among others.

However, passage of such an amendment under the National Defence Authorization Act 2014, though hailed by Rohrabacher as a giant step forward, is unlikely to have much impact on US military aid to Pakistan, given that in the past that both the Pentagon and the State Department have been quick in issuing similar certifications.

"This is a giant step forward for those victims of oppression in Pakistan," said Rohrabacher who moved the amendment with bipartisan co-sponsorship of Congressman Brad Sherman.

Rohrabacher is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

"For the first time their plight is being recognised and a policy is being established of not giving the Pakistani government the weapons to carry on their repression. This is the first time the plight of the Balochi and the Sindhi have been underscored in legislation that links support for Pakistan's military to how they treat those minority groups," Rohrabacher said.

The US has given over $25 billion of aid to Pakistan since 2001 and this year's National Defence Authorization Act authorised up to an additional $1.5 billion. 

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