US okays military aid to Pak with terror rider

The Department of Defence Authorisation bill for 2010 was passed by the Senate on Friday with a vote of 87-7 with an amendment that Pakistan should use funds given to it as military assistance only to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The bipartisan amendment was introduced by two Senators — Robert Menendez and Bob Corker — amidst growing apprehensions among lawmakers that the American tax-payers’ money given to Islamabad to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda was being used to build up its army against India.

The Menendez-Corker legislative language would mandate a certification by the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence, before Pakistan is reimbursed with Coalition Support Funds, that the payment is both in the national security interests of the US, and will not affect the balance of power in the region.

“To this point, almost eight years and more than seven billion in American tax-payer dollars for Pakistan’s military have not prevented the Taliban and al-Qaeda from regrouping along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” Menendez said.

“The fight against these extremists is crucial for our own security, which is why we have to certify that our support is in fact doing what we intend it to do and is not being used for other purposes,”Menendez said.

While appreciating “the important role” Pakistan has played in the US fight to eliminate terrorist safe havens within its borders, Corker said: “Ee also owe it to our service members and the American tax-payers to ensure that the money provided to Pakistan out of the Coalition Support Funds are in fact being directed toward those efforts and not misdirected.”

The Senate, on June 24, had unanimously passed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (S962), tripling American civilian assistance to Islamabad to $7.5 billion in the next five years and advocating an equal amount for five years — $15 billion in 10 years.

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