A key US congressional panel voted in favour of a bill imposing tougher conditions on Pakistan to receive US assistance.
The House Appropriations Committee on 19 July 2017 approved by voice vote the 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that seeks certification from Rex Tillerson for disbursement of US aid to Pakistan, making it conditional for Islamabad to take action against terrorist groups.
The bill would now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Key Highlights of the Bill
• The bill requires the secretary of the state to certify that Pakistan is indeed cooperating with the US in counter- terrorism efforts against extremist groups like the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and al-Qaeda.
• It also requires the secretary of the state to certify that the country is taking effective steps to prevent such terrorist groups from basing and operating in Pakistan and carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries.
• In addition to this, the state secretary also has to certify that Pakistan is not supporting terrorist activities against the United States or its coalition forces in Afghanistan and that Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan.
• The certification also needs to include that Pakistan is not financing or supporting schools linked to the Taliban or any other designated terrorist group and that Islamabad is preventing the production of nuclear-related material and expertise.
• The bill further authorises the secretary of state to suspend aid and assistance to the country if it fails to make measurable progress in meeting the set benchmarks.
The bill clearly states that none of the funds appropriated under the 'Economic Support Fund', the 'International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement', and the 'Foreign Military Financing Programme' for Pakistan may be made available unless the secretary of state certifies to the committees that the country is taking action against terrorist groups.
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