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US to FREEZE $700 million aid to Pakistan

Last updated on: December 15, 2011 11:38 IST

US to FREEZE $700 million aid to Pakistan

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The United States House of Representatives has approved a billion dollar defence bill, which, among other things, freezes $700 million in aid to Pakistan until the country offers greater assurances to Washington to contain the spread of Improvised Explosive Devices.

The National Defence Authorization Act 2012, as passed by the House, freezes nearly $700 million in aid to Pakistan pending assurances that it has taken steps to thwart militants who use IEDs against US-led forces.

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted 283-136 on Thursday to approve the $ 670 billion Defence Authorisation Bill that also slaps harsher sanctions on Iran and endorses indefinite imprisonment of suspected terrorists.

"This freeze includes the majority of the $ 1.1 billion in Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund," the House Armed Services Committee had said in a statement earlier this week, after members of the House and the Senate reached an agreement on the bill.

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Image: Anti-US demonstrators wave a burning American flag during a protest rally in Peshawar
Photographs: Erik de Castro/Reuters

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The House vote came after the White House said that President Barack Obama will not veto the bill as he was satisfied with the changes made in it.

"As a result of these changes, we have concluded that the language does not challenge or constrain the President's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people, and the President's senior advisors will not recommend a veto," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"If in the process of implementing this law we determine that it will negatively impact our counter-terrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law, we expect that the authors of these provisions will work quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems," Carney said.

On Thursday, the Obama administration had asserted that there was no cut in aid to Pakistan and it would work with the Pakistani government to meet the requirements of the defence spending bill for 2012.

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Image: US President Barack Obama


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"We will work with the Pakistanis to meet their requirements," a senior administration official said, adding the US had "not cut" assistance to Pakistan.

Congressman Howard P McKeon said, "Together we have demanded more accountability from nations like Iran, we have aided our forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we look to emerging issues like proliferation and cyber threats. We have assured that the Department of Defence will be a more efficient steward of the taxpayer dollar and we have ensured that as we fight terrorists around the world, we also protect the civil liberties of Americans at home."

Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the Committee, said that the bill prioritises US troops deployed in Afghanistan and around the world by ensuring that they have the tools and resources they need to do their job and protect national security.

"It also provides our troops and their families with the benefits and support that they deserve, including a 1.6 per cent pay increase," he said.

The bill, Smith said, continues to make counter-terrorism a priority and makes significant investments in all branches of armed services, ensuring that the military is prepared to meet the threats of today as well as those of the future.


Image: A soldier of the Pakistan army at his post near the border with Afghanistan


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