Two legislative amendments seeking a cut in the US aid to Pakistan have been defeated in the House of Representatives with most lawmakers arguing that it is essential to maintain ties...
Two legislative amendments seeking a cut in the US aid to Pakistan have been defeated in the House of Representatives with most lawmakers arguing that it is essential to maintain ties with a nuclear armed country despite it not doing enough in the war against terrorism.
The first amendment moved by Congressman Ted Poe sought to cut funding to Pakistan from USD 900 million to $ 700 million in coalition support fund (CSF) was defeated on the House floor by a recorded vote of 191 to 230.
Another amendment moved by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking to prohibit funds from being used to provide aid to Pakistan has been defeated by a recorded vote of 84 to 236.
Arguing that Pakistan is on the “wrong side of the war”, Poe said that if he had his way, he would cut all the money to Pakistan.
“Here is the reason, Mr Chairman: the Pakistanis hid Osama bin Laden, and we had to go into Pakistan and take him out. They hid him, and the world knows about it,” he alleged.
“After they hid Osama bin Laden, amazingly, the CIA section chief in Pakistan is poisoned. He comes back to the US. He believes, and the CIA believes, that it was the Pakistani ISI that poisoned him. I agree with them,” Poe alleged.
Noting that Pakistan was “playing everybody”, Poe said they “take our money, it goes through ISI, and it ends up in the hands of the Taliban and Afghanistan that is killing Americans”.
Seeking support for his amendment, Congressman Rohrabacher said continuation of the US aid to Pakistan will strengthen and bolster a government that has committed crimes against their own people.
“We will be then basically giving money to a government that not only represses its own people but, through its support of terrorism and terrorist organisations, threatens the people of the US and those peoples elsewhere,” he said.
However, majority of the lawmakers did not support Poe and Rohrabacher in cutting aid to Pakistan.
Opposing Poe’s amendment, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said the US must be mindful that Pakistan have nuclear capacity.
“I believe it is important that we are engaging and that we use these resources for them to maintain the security of these resources but, more importantly, to keep a collaboration with, in particular, their military operations which, overall, have been helpful in the war on terror,” she said.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of Coalition Support Fund said it remained a critical tool to enable Pakistan to effectively deal with future challenges emerging from the US drawdown.
“It also remains a cost-effective tool for the US to remain engaged in the region and with Pakistan. We shouldn’t be abandoning Pakistan, because we might actually have something even worse than what the gentleman describes if we turn our back on Pakistan,” he said.
Lawmakers debated both the amendments to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017 (H R 5293) on the House floor on Wednesday and voted on it on Thursday, according to Congressional Records.
The Defense Appropriations Act, passed by the House yesterday, seeks certification from the Defense Secretary that Pakistan is cooperating with the US in counterterrorism efforts against the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Al Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organisations.
This certification can be waived off under national interest.
Poe argued that Pakistan should be given the same amount of $700 million in 2017 and not an increase of $ 900 million as proposed in the bill.
Rohrabacher said since 9/11 the US has given over $ 30 billion in aid to Pakistan, the majority of which went to military and security services.
Opposing the amendments, Congressman Pete Visclosky said there was no question that the relationship with Pakistan had been very difficult.
“But ought to also remember that not only are we talking about the issues of terrorism in this country, but that Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons and has capabilities,” he said.