WASHINGTON: The US House of Representative on Thursday rejected two amendments seeking cut in Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan in the proposed Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017.
The CSF is reimbursement for expenses incurred by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. Earlier in May 2016, the US House of Representatives approved $900 million CSF outlay for Pakistan as part of the annual Defense Authorization Bill.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani had met several lawmakers in recent weeks to project Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism. The country has suffered losses of nearly $200 billion over time due to terrorism.
During debate on the bill, Congressman Ted Poe of Texas and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu American from Hawaii, moved an amendment to cut CSF for Pakistan from $ 900 million to $ 700 million.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment called for cutting all Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan, saying that detention of Dr. Shakil Afridi was evidence that Pakistan was not a sincere partner of the United States. Congressman Poe called for cutting CSF by $ 200 accusing Pakistan of supporting the Taliban.
The House rejected both amendments by voice vote and resorted to a recorded vote once both lawmakers insisted for it. When put to vote, the amendment moved by Congressman Poe and Congresswoman Gabbard was defeated by 230 to 191. Congressman Rohrabacher’s amendment was defeated by 336-84.
Three congressmen opposed the amendments. Congressman Rodney Frelinghysen, Chairman of the Defence Appropriations Committee, explained the mechanism of the Coalition Support Fund to the House.
He said that receipts for reimbursements were submitted by cooperating nations and are fully vetted by the Pentagon, and follow strict criteria to meet standards for reimbursement. He described CSF as a critical tool that helps Pakistan effectively deal with future challenges from the emerging U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan.
The congressman observed that the CSF remains a cost-effective tool for the U.S. to remain engaged in the region and with Pakistan.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Co-Chair of Pakistan Congressional Caucus, highlighted Pakistan’s own actions in counter-terrorism.
She emphasized the Pakistan military, over a period of years, has fought against terrorism and suffered a great treasure in the loss of their soldiers. “I believe it is important that we continue to collaborate and, as my two colleagues have said, that we work extensively with oversight.”
The US Senate has also moved a proposal for $800 million fund for enhancing Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capacity. There was no amendment in the US senate against the proposal.
The Congress will continue to work on these proposals in the coming months and these are expected to be finalised after they are approved by both chambers of the Congress House of Representatives and the US Senate.