Chairman of Defence Appropriations Committee says Coalition Support Fund is a cost-effective tool for US to remain engaged in the region and with Pakistan
The US House of Representatives on Thursday rejected two amendments seeking cut in Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan in the proposed Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017.
The US House of Representatives had in May approved $900 million CSF outlay for Pakistan as part of the annual Defense Authorisation Bill. The Fund is reimbursement for expenses incurred by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani has met several lawmakers in recent weeks to highlight Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism. The country has suffered losses of nearly $200 billion due to terrorism.
During the 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 but turned to a recorded vote once both lawmakers insisted on it. When put to a 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. Defence Appropriations Committee Chairman Congressman Rodney Frelinghysen 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 that strict criteria is followed to meet standards for reimbursement. He described CSF as a critical tool that helps Pakistan effectively deal with future challenges from the emerging US drawdown from Afghanistan.
The Congressman observed that the CSF remains a cost-effective tool for the US to remain engaged in the region and with Pakistan.
Pakistan Congressional Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee highlighted Pakistan’s own actions in counter-terrorism. She said that the Pakistan military, over a period of years, has fought against terrorism and suffered a lot 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. These are expected to be finalised after being approved by both chambers of the Congress – House of Representatives and the US Senate.