US Congress caps defence aid to Pakistan to $150 mn

The US Congress has passed a defence spending bill, capping security aid to Pakistan to a mere $150 million, way below the $1 billion a year in aid it used to give in the past.

The American Senate passed the conference report on the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA-19) by 87 to 10 votes, while the House of Representatives had last week passed the report. President Donald Trump has to now give his assent to the bill.
The American President has been tough on Pakistan, especially its inaction against terrorist groups, ever since he took over the White House. He had called on Pakistan to take a tough stance against terror groups.
Earlier this year, the US accused Pakistan of harbouring terror grups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network and for refusing to take decision actions against them.
Surprisingly, while both houses have passed the bill, the NDAA-19 itself has removed conditions such as Pakistan taking action against the Haqqani Network or the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Anish Goel, who was part of the National Security Council in the Barack Obama administration, told news agency PTI that the reduction in American aid to Pakistan was significant; it has fallen from $700 million authorised under the Coalition Support Fund last year to just $150 million.
Unfortunately, under the new act, “the Pentagon no longer has any tools to put pressure on Pakistan to undertake counter-terrorism activities or action against the Haqqani Network,” said Goel.
The Trump administration is also concerned about the growing Chinese role in Pakistan. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has warned that any International Monetary Fund bailout for the new government in Pakistan should not in any way provide funds to pay Chinese lenders.
“Make no mistake. We will be watching what the IMF does,” Pompeo told a television channel. “There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself.”
An IMF spokeswoman later confirmed that it had not received a request for a Fund arrangement from Pakistan and it had not had discussions with the authorities “about any possible intentions.”