Washington, Dec 16 : The Obama Administration today said that there is no bearing on the current aid structure to the House bill that freezes USD 700 million aid to Pakistan; which a State Department spokesperson argued only requires a certification and that too has a waiver clause.
“From what we've seen, from what our embassy (in Islamabad) has seen, there has been some misunderstanding of this in the Pakistani press.
What this piece of legislation requires is that the administration make certain certifications as to how our general relationship with Pakistan is going in certain categories in order to release the money,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.
“But this is not about cutting funding or freezing funding. We're working on setting the funding levels with the Congress. It is about imposing on the administration certain certification requirements before we would release the money that the Congress would give,” she said.
“This is very similar to procedures that we have on other kinds of money for countries around the world. These are certification requirements. In addition, I would say that, you know, they usually include some kind of waiver authorities for the Secretary. I'd also like to say this in no way impinges on Pakistani sovereignty.
There have been some strange assertions in the Pakistani press which are inaccurate,” Nuland said. The US official said these are certifications that the US administration has to make to the Congress about how our relationship with Pakistan is going.
“These are not responsibilities of the government of Pakistan,” she said.
“Well, if we can't certify that we're making progress, then we have to work with the Congress on what portion of the money would or wouldn't go,” Nuland said when asked what happens when such a certification is not made.
On the current civilian aid to Pakistan by the State Department, Nuland said all of these programs are negotiated and done in cooperation with the government of Pakistan or with NGOs or other groups in Pakistan who have asked for our assistance.
“If and when we get to a stage where government-to-government programs are no longer wanted or desired, then obviously we can give the money back to the American people,” she said.
“Let me just say that our budgeting process in the US Congress is pretty complicated even for Americans to understand. This is not the first time that we've had recipients of money around the world have difficulty understanding exactly what the Congress has asked for,” Nuland said.
“Given the size of these programs, it's natural that there are going to be a lot of reporting requirements to the Congress. This is a lot of money that the American taxpayer is
putting into our shared relationship with Pakistan. So that makes each of these bills quite complicated. So it is incumbent on us to explain it, and we have done that in the past and we're continuing to try to do that in this case,” said the US official.