Pakistan’s inaction against terror group Haqqani network may compel the US to hold the release of remaining USD 350 million (over Rs 2200 crore) of the USD 900 million (over Rs 5760 crore) support fund.
According to top US Defence officials, the Islamic nation may not get the remaining part of the aide as it has not done enough against the dangerous Haqqani terror network to get the required certification from the Defence Secretary.
As mandated by the Congress, the Pentagon has started the process of reviewing the steps being taken by Pakistan against the Haqqani network, which the US believes poses a grave threat to its forces in Afghanistan.
Given the initial review and the feedback received from Pakistan, sources told PTI that Pakistan is unlikely to get the USD 350 of the USD 900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) this fiscal as sanctioned by the Congress.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis needs to issue a certificate to the Congress in this regard by June-end to become eligible to get USD 350 million from the Pentagon.
The Pentagon said no decision in this regard has been made yet. “The Secretary of Defence has not yet made a decision regarding the Haqqani certification requirement associated with USD 350 million of the FY-16 CSF appropriation for Pakistan,” Adam Stump, a Defence Department spokesman, told PTI.
The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.
The Deputy Secretary of Defence signed the authorisation to disburse USD 550 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Coalition Support Funds (CSF) to Pakistan for logistical, military, and other support provided to the US operations in Afghanistan for the period of January-June 2015.
“The Department recognises the significant sacrifices the Pakistan military has made in the fight against terrorism and appreciates Pakistan’s continued support for transit of materiel to coalition forces in Afghanistan,” he said.
The disbursement which was wired to Pakistan last month uses CSF funds that are not restricted by the Secretary of Defence certification of Pakistan’s actions on the Haqqani Network.
As per the fiscal 2016, National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), Pakistan is authorised to receive up to USD 900 million in FY-16 CSF.
“Disbursement of the remaining USD 350 million will require the Secretary of Defence to certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network. The Secretary has not yet made a decision on certification,” Stump said in response to a question.
According to a defence official well aware of certification process, the Pentagon needs “to make sure that Pakistan is providing us evidence” with regard to the actions it is taking against the Haqqani network.
“We ask for evidence that they have gone after those groups,” the official told PTI, who requested anonymity.
Once the information is received from Pakistan, the Pentagon reviews and verifies those claims through its own network.
A initial review is conducted by a team of defence officials who then submit its recommendations to the Defence Secretary.
It is a part of an ongoing discussion, the official said.
However, Stump said that Pakistani people have made significant sacrifices over the last three years in order to counter terrorism.
“We continue to be encouraged by Pakistan’s operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),” he said, adding Pakistan’s efforts have reduced the ability of some militant groups to use North Waziristan and the FATA as a safe haven for terrorism.
“It is in the interest of Pakistan to eliminate all safe havens and reduce the operational capacity of all militant organisations, particularly Al Qaeda, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and other militant groups that pose a threat to US and Pakistani interests and regional stability,” Stump told PTI.
For the first time in 2016, then Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter had declined to certify that Pakistan met the Haqqani certification requirement, resulting in the loss of USD 300 million of fiscal year 2015 CSF.
This amount was reprogrammed by the Pentagon for Department of Defence’s Overseas Contingency Operations Funding, a second defence department official said.
“The USD 300 million of Coalition Support Funds you asked about were reprogrammed, with Congressional approval, through Reprogramming Actions – Prior Approval, FY 16-22 and FY 16-27, to help meet Department of Defence needs for Overseas Contingency Operations funding,” the official said.
Notably, the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) authority is not security assistance, but reimbursements to key cooperating nations for logistical, military, and other support provided to US combat operations.
“Pakistan is the largest recipient of CSF reimbursements, receiving roughly USD 14 billion since 2002,” he said, adding that CSF is just one component of America’s broad and enduring partnership with Pakistan.
With PTI Inputs