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Obama signs bill, links Pak aid to Dr Afridi's release

19 January, 2014

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that puts conditions on continuation of US aid to Pakistan.

The bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate requires a certification from the secretary of state and the defence secretary that Pakistan is cooperating with the US in counterterrorism efforts against the Haqqani Network, Quetta Shura Taliban, LeT, Jaish-e- Mohammed, al-Qaida, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organisations.

It also includes Pakistan taking steps to end support for such groups and prevent them from making bases and operating them on its soil, and carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries. Further, the Congress has also withheld $33 million assistance until Pakistan releases Shakil Afridi from prison and he is cleared of all charges relating to the assistance provided to the US in locating slain terrorist Osama bin Laden.

As per the bill, the secretary of state also requires to certify to Congress that Pakistan is not supporting terrorist activities against the US or coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan.

Online adds: Ahead of the drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, US President Barack Obama has announced the establishment of an Af-Pak Strategic Partnership Office (APSPO) to oversee a smooth transition and promote normalised diplomatic presence in both the countries.

In an executive order, Obama said the APSO has been tasked to perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in facilitating a strategic partnership with the two south Asian countries.

Obama said this is a temporary office and would be based in Washington, Islamabad and Kabul.

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