WASHINGTON: The US Senate on Tuesday passed a $602 billion defense authorization bill, which has also proposed a new reimbursement mechanism for Pakistan to expedite security enhancement activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the FATA region.
The provision pertaining to Pakistan is called Pakistan Security Enhancement Authorization and authorizes $800 million for the country. It also fences $300 million behind a similar Haqqani network provision.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has used the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) model to restructure security support for Pakistan on the basis that it believes CSF mechanism may soon be ending as it was linked with a specific US mission in Afghanistan which has formally ended.
The new authorization is founded on the need to support Pakistan for its own security needs instead of a broader basis for supporting a coalition. This is not a new provision as similar provisions existed in the Annual Defence Authorization Act since fiscal year 2015.
The bill authorizes military spending for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. The proposal for Pakistan was passed as originally initiated. None of the over 400 amendments considered by the Senate targeted this outlay for Pakistan.
The House of Representatives last month passed its version of bill. The Senates version of the Authorization Act, which was passed on Tuesday, now must be reconciled with the one passed by the House last month. A conference Committee of both houses of the Congress will now be constituted to reconcile the two drafts and develop a consensus draft.
The consensus draft will be passed from both houses of the Congress again before it is sent to the President for signature. The Consensus draft is expected to be completed in July. Pasts years bill had been passed as late as November.
A report by the US Senate Armed Services Committee that was filed along with the draft Defense Bill, described Pakistan as a long-standing Strategic partner of the United States. It stated that Pakistan-US relationship will continue to be strong and enduring.
The committee also noted that since 9/11 Pakistan has been a vital partner of the US in efforts to combat terrorism in South Asia.
The committee believed that stability in the region cannot be achieved without stability in Pakistan itself and that fostering a strong, stable, and secure Pakistan is consistent with the national security goals of the United States.
The committee wrote in its report that security and stability within the borders of Pakistan is vital to the stability of the region and to transregional efforts to combat terrorism more broadly.
Noting with concern that terrorist attacks continue to plague Pakistan, the committee strongly supported efforts by the Pakistan government to take steps to degrade and defeat terrorist networks and activities within its own borders.
For these reasons, the committee believes that security assistance for Pakistan should continue, the committee report said.
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