US waives legal requirements for USD 2 bn aid to Pak

US waives legal requirements for USD 2 bn aid to Pak

Notwithstanding Pakistan's reluctance to act on its demand to rein in the dreaded Haqqani network, the US has waived the necessary legal requirements for this year's USD 2 billion security and civilian aid to Islamabad, arguing that it was in America's national interest.

"Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton has decided to exercise her authority to waive in FY 2012 certification requirements on certain civilian and security assistance to Pakistan," a State Department official told PTI.

Clinton has determined that such assistance "is in the US national security interest," the official said.

"It is a critical component of US efforts to continue to build a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan grounded in concrete action on areas of shared interest.

"Continuation of civilian assistance remains an important tool to further our objective of cooperating with Pakistan to build more capable civilian state institutions, foster economic growth, and improve the lives of ordinary Pakistanis through better health and education opportunities," the official said justifying the decision.

Despite recent challenges with Pakistan, the US is encouraged by recent "positive engagement", including meetings in Washington and on the margins of the UN General Assembly and Pakistan's participation in recent Core Group meetings with Afghanistan, the State Department official said speaking on condition on anonymity.

"We believe we should continue building on these steps and that our civilian and security assistance is a critical component of this effort," the official said.

The Obama administration has repeatedly asked Islamabad to break links between its security services and the Haqqani network, and take firm steps to rein in the Taliban-linked terror outfit to prevent it from carrying out attacks from the safe havens in Pakistan's tribal belt on coalition forces based in Afghanistan.

According to the latest report of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in mid-August 2012, the State Department quietly notified Congress of its intention to cite US national security provisions in waiving two certification requirements that placed conditions on US assistance to Pakistan.

These provisions required the Secretary to certify that Pakistan was cooperating with the United States on a range of counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, democracy and other issue-areas.

On September 13, the State Department formally notified Congress that the Administration would continue the US aid flow by waiving certifications, finding that it was in the national security interest of the US to do so, the report said.

"This marks the first time the Obama Administration has waived aid sanctions on Pakistan. Congress had permanently waived all proliferation and debt-arrearage sanctions on Pakistan in October 2002, and the Bush Administration issued six waivers of democracy-related sanctions—for FY 2002  -FY 2007 —until these were permanently waived following an April 2008 determination that a democratic government had been restored in Islamabad," the CRS report said.

According to CRS, the relevant Congressional committees received formal notification from Clinton that she found it important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the limitations on security aid to Pakistan.

"The Secretary's accompanying justification for the waiver was delivered in classified form," the CRS said.

Clinton also notified the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that she was waiving the Pakistan-related certification requirements under existing laws.

"This waiver was similarly made under the law's national security provision," the report said.

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