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June 17, 2016

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US House rejects amendments to cut CSF for Pakistan

US House rejects amendments to cut CSF for Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representative on Thursday rejected two amendments aimed to cut the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for Pakistan, calling it “too critical to enable the country to effectively deal with future challenges.”

Debating the annual Defence Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017, Congressman Ted Poe of Texas and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard moved an amendment to cut CSF for Pakistan from $900 million to $700 million. Earlier in May, the House had approved a $900 million CSF outlay for Pakistan as part of the annual Defence Authorisation Bill.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher also presented his version of the amendment calling for shaving off the CSF amount for Pakistan. The House rejected both amendments by voice vote and resorted to a recorded vote once both Congressmen insisted on it.

Congressman Poe called for cutting the CSF by $200 million on the basis that Pakistan was supporting the Taliban. Congressman Rohrabacher made similar accusations and also pointed at the detention of Dr Shakil Afridi, saying that Pakistan was an insincere ally.

Three Congressmen spoke in opposition to the amendments. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen from New Jersey, who’s also the Chairman of the Defence Appropriations Committee, explained the mechanism of the Coalition Support Fund to the House and maintained that the CSF already allows the secretary of defence to reimburse any key cooperating nation for logistical and military support, including access, specialised training to personnel, procurement, and provision of supplies and equipment provided by that nation in connection with a United States military operation. Pakistan is one of those partners, he said.

He added, “Receipts for reimbursements are submitted by cooperating nations and are fully vetted by the Pentagon and follow strict criteria to meet standards for reimbursement. It is all about reimbursement. All payments are made in arrears and following notification to Members of Congress on appropriate committees.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Frelinghuysen said that the Coalition Support Fund remained a critical tool to enable Pakistan to effectively deal with future challenges from the emerging US drawdown. He said, “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.”

The Democrat Ranking Member of the Committee Congressman Peter Visclosky also opposed the amendments saying that the US legislation had in-built oversight mechanism to ensure that funds were released only when it had been certified that Pakistan was cooperating in counter-terrorism.

When put to vote, both amendments, moved by Congressman Poe and Congresswoman Gabbard, and Congressman Rohrabacher’s were defeated by 230 to 191; and 336-84 respectively.

 

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