Despite concerns, State Department to maintain aid levels to Pakistan

By Paul Mutter

McClatchy reports that even though the Obama Administration has not publicly reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the Afghan War, a necessary announcement to justify both military and non-military aid to Islamabad, it has nonetheless waived the requirement to released US$2 billion:

The Obama administration has refused for the first time to declare that Pakistan is making progress toward ending alleged military support for Islamic militant groups or preventing al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban or other extremists from staging attacks in Afghanistan.

Even so, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has quietly informed Congress that she’s waived the legal restrictions that would have blocked $2 billion in U.S. economic and military aid to Pakistan. Disbursing the funds, she said in an official notice, is “important to the national security interests of the United States.

The Congressional Research Service released a report last week outlining the timeline the Administration pursued to reauthorize the aid over the summer:

By mid-2012, however, conditions were such that a second certification under the EPPA [the 2009 Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act] appeared extremely difficult to justify. The November 2011 Salala border incident had spurred an angry Islamabad to close vital supply lines used by NATO forces in Afghanistan, and these remained closed for more than seven months until difficult negotiations finally resulted in their reopening in early July 2012 (in an apparent quid pro quo, Washington days later released nearly $1.2 billion in pending CSF payments). Despite this breakthrough, U.S.-Pakistan relations remained uneasy and, with the fiscal year in its final quarter, the Administration faced having to make a decision on if and how to free planned FY2012 aid to Pakistan, given congressional conditions.

In mid-August 2012, the State Department quietly notified Congress of its intent, “consistent with U.S. national security interests,” to waive the certification requirements of the EPPA. The stated justification was that proceeding with “cooperation and joint action in areas of mutual interest with Pakistan” requires the Administration to have available all foreign policy tools, including foreign assistance. One month later, on September 14, the relevant congressional committees received formal notification from Secretary Clinton that she found it important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the limitations on security aid to Pakistan found in Section 203 of P.L. 111-73. The Secretary’s accompanying justification for the waiver was delivered in classified form. Also on September 14, Secretary Clinton notified the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that she was waiving the Pakistan-related certification requirements in Section 7046(c) of P.L. 112-74. This waiver was similarly made under the law’s national security provision.

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