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WASHINGTON: The Pentagon must “demonstrate” to Pakistan the “consequences” of continued support to terrorists, US Congressional leaders have said as they backed President Donald Trump’s new South Asia policy.
Trump in August unveiled America’s new policy for South Asia and Afghanistan, criticising Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists.
The bipartisan group of Congressional leaders, reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 National defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), also urged the Department of Defense to closely monitor US security assistance to Pakistan and ensure that the country does not use it to support terrorist groups.
The lawmakers, in a joint report of the Senate and House Armed Services committees released yesterday, asked the Pentagon to “demonstrate to Pakistan the consequences of continued support to terrorists”.
Such a demand from lawmakers comes days after the Indian security forces recovered US-made rifle meant for Pakistan from a terrorist in Jammu and Kashmir.
A carbine Colt recovered from an encounter site in Pulwama district, where three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants, including its chief Masood Azhar’s nephew Talha Rashid, were killed on Monday night.
The US State Department refused to respond to a question on recovery of equipment from terrorists.
“We refer you to the government of India regarding their investigation into this matter,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI.
In another move, the House receded its amendment to remove the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from the certification requirements not eligible for a national security waiver.
The reconciled version of the NDAA-2018 now makes $350 million of $700 million available to Pakistan under coalition support fund (CSF) contingent upon certification from the secretary of defense that Pakistan is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.
In the last two years, two successive US defense secretaries- Ashton Carter and his successor Jim Mattis- refused to give such a certification to Pakistan, in the absence of Islamabad taking demonstrable and satisfactory actions against the Haqqani network.
The lawmakers, however, noted that action on the part of the Government of Pakistan against the LeT, as well as other terrorist groups operating within the borders of Pakistan, remains a priority for the US, according to the voluminous conference report.
The conferees expressed concern about the persecution of groups seeking political or religious freedom in Pakistan, including the Balochi, Sindhi and Hazara ethnic groups, as well as Christians, Hindus and Ahmadiyya Muslims.
Consequently, the conferees believe that the secretary of defense should ensure that Pakistan is not using any assistance provided by the United States to persecute minority groups, the report said.