Carter declines to give Congressional certification to Pakistan on Haqqani network
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): In an affirmation of Afghanistan’s allegations against Islamabad, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has declined to give Pakistan the mandatory certification to the Congress that it is taking strong action against the Haqqani network.
As a result, the Pentagon has blocked disbursement of the USD300 million Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to Pakistan for the fiscal 2015.
“The funds (USD300 million) could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the (Defense) Secretary has not yet certified that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network per the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requirement,” Adam Stump, a Pentagon Spokesman, told PAN.
Such a decision by the Pentagon has been described as long due by top American experts. “This step to hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to crack down on the Haqqani network is long overdue,” said Lisa Curtis, an eminent South Asia expert, from The Heritage Foundation.
Stump said Pakistan has been reimbursed USD700M of the USD1 billion they were authorized in fiscal 15 under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). “With the Secretary's decision, there is no additional FY15 CSF available to Pakistan,” he said in response to a question.
At the same time, the Pentagon spokesman said Carter’s decision on the Haqqani network “does not reduce” the significance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani military has undertaken over the last two years.
“However, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network continue to operate in other locations in Pakistan,” Stump said.
In fiscal 2016, Pakistan has been authorized USD900M of CSF, of which USD350 million would be released only after the Defense Secretary certifies that Islamabad is taking strong steps against the Haqqani network.
Pakistan is the largest recipient of CSF reimbursements, having received roughly USD14 billion since 2002 Stump said, adding that this is the first time there's been a Secretary Defense’s certification was required.
According to Curtis the move reflects that the US Congress has finally lost patience with Pakistan's facilitation of militants directly undermining the US mission in Afghanistan.
“I see it as a natural progression over time reflecting American disenchantment over repeated Pakistani promises which are never fulfilled,” Aparna Pande from Hudson Institute said.
Pakistan will continue its fight against terrorism and ensure that areas cleared by the security forces do not slide back in to the control of terrorist networks, said Nadeem Hotiana, spokesman, Embassy of Pakistan.
Coalition Support Fund, he said, is one of the many cooperative arrangements between Pakistan and the United States to pursue common objectives.
“These reimbursements enable the United States to support Pakistan's on-going counter-terrorism efforts in a manner that serves shared interests of both countries. Under this arrangement, both countries continue to work closely to build on the gains achieved over the past years that have improved security in the tribal areas,” Hotiana noted.
Over the past decade Pakistan has conducted a large number of military operations that have sequentially dismantled and destroyed terrorist infrastructure on its side on the international border with Afghanistan, he argued.
“Pakistan will continue to work with its partners in a long-term effort for ensuring security and stability in these areas,” Hotiana said.
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