US Congress seeks to cut $700 mn aid to Pakistan

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Washington, Dec, 13: US Congress has pushed ahead to freeze $700 million aid to Pakistan until Islamabad comes up with a strategy to fight the spread of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the region, a step which is likely to deepen crisis between the two countries.

Reflecting a bipartisan toughening of stand, the negotiating panel of the House of Representatives and the Senate, yesterday unanimously agreed to freeze the 700 million aid to Pakistan as they reached a compromise on a sweeping $662 billion Defense Authorization Bill for the year 2012.

Besides, stringing aid to Pakistan, the military spending bill also targets Iran's Central Bank and sets new hurdles for closing Guantanamo Bay prison for al-Qaeda fighters.

The legislation will now face vote in both the Houses this week amid warnings by President Obama that he would veto any bill that required military custody of suspected extremists who target US.

Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of US foreign aid and the freeze, when it is empowered by the Congress, would form only a small portion of billions of dollars of civil and military assistance it gets each year.

But the freeze could lead to greater cut backs as demands rise in the US to penalise Islamabad for failing to act against militant groups on its soil, who kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Locally made IEDs are the most effective weapons used by terrorists against US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

PTI

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