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US Senate panel links Pak aid to Haqqani crackdown

22 September, 2011

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WASHINGTON: A US Senate committee voted on Wednesday to make economic and security aid to Pakistan conditional on its cooperation in fighting militants such as the Haqqani network.

The Senate committee did not specify any amount for economic aid to Pakistan for fiscal 2012, leaving it up to the Obama administration to set the level and notify Congress - or provide nothing at all.

"If the administration wants to provide zero, that'd be OK with us," said Republican Senator Mark Kirk, one of the more vocal critics of Pakistan on the panel.

The committee did approve $1 billion for the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Capability Fund, which was created in 2009 to help Pakistan's military develop counter-insurgency capabilities to fight militants within its borders.

But the committee voted to make this aid, as well as any economic aid that is provided, conditional on Pakistan's cooperating with Washington against several militant groups.

In addition to the Haqqani network, these groups include al Qaeda and the Quetta Shura. They also include Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Punjab-based group blamed for attacks on Mumbai, India, in November 2008.

The restrictions were part of a foreign aid bill that the committee approved and sent to the Senate floor. It will have to be reconciled with the House of Representatives, where lawmakers in one subcommittee have voted similar restrictions.

End.

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