Pak troops linked to abuses could lose American aid

Washington, Oct. 22 (ANI): The Obama administration plans to refuse to train or equip about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban.

The New York Times quoted senior administration and Congressional officials as saying that while the White House has not told Pakistan of the decision, the threat to withdraw funds is under serious consideration.

A few senior members of Congress have been privately briefed about the plan, but have not been given details about which Pakistani units will be affected by the funds suspension, the paper reports.

One senior administration official said there was "a lot of concern about not embarrassing" the Pakistani military, especially during a week in which officials are here for the third "Strategic Dialogue" in a year.

The decision comes just as the two countries are trying to get beyond a sharp exchange after NATO helicopter gun ships killed three Pakistani paramilitary troops, and Pakistan retaliated by shutting down a critical allied supply route into Afghanistan.

President Obama met Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and other senior Pakistani officials on Wednesday before leaving on a campaign trip to the West Coast, but the White House provided only a vague description of their conversations.

Officials said the decision would affect the Pakistani Army and special operations troops supported by the United States that have conducted offensives against Taliban fighters in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan in the past year.

The Leahy Amendment, a law that stretches back more than a decade, requires the United States to cut off aid to foreign militaries that are found to have committed gross violations of human rights.

It has been applied in the past to Indonesia and Colombia, but never to a country of such strategic importance to the United States as Pakistan.

The United States spends about two billion dollars a year on the Pakistani military, including money specifically designated for counter-terrorism operations. (ANI)

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