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US Congress moves closer to conditioning Pak aid package

Aziz Haniffa in Washington | July 17, 2003 15:07 IST

The US Congress moved one step closer to conditioning the proposed American economic and military aid package to Pakistan when the full House on July 16 voted in favour of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 that contains the provision regarding Pakistan.

The amendment in the bill, authored by Eni Faleomavaega, a Democratic Congressman who represents American Samoa, conditions US economic and military aid to Pakistan on a presidential certification that Pakistan has closed all known terrorist training camps operating in Pakistan and Pakistan-held Kashmir; has established serious and identifiable measures to stop infiltration of Islamic extremists across the line of control into India; and has ceased the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, including any associated technologies, to any third country or terrorist organisation.

Faleomavaega, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific that has jurisdiction on matters pertaining to South Asia, was urged to introduce this amendment by the pro-India lobby led by the US-India Political Action Committee and in a major victory for this lobby, the full committee adopted the measure on May 7.

The next step toward the long process of attempting to get this amendment enacted was to make sure it remained in the broader Foreign Relations Authorization Act it was tagged on to and was voted on by the full House -- which happened on July 16.

However, there is still a long way to go before the bill can become law because the Senate has to agree to this amendment during a conference committee, when the Senate and House Authorization acts are being reconciled.

Since there is no similar amendment on the Senate side, Congressional sources acknowledge that the pro-India lobby faces an uphill battle to get the Senate conferees to acccept the Faleomavaega amendment in the final compromise bill that would go to the President for his signature.


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