US Congress panel approves bill that makes Pak aid conditional

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Washington, May 10: A key US Congressional Committee today overwhelmingly passed a bill that imposes conditions on Pakistan for receiving American economic and military aid which will depend on the action Islamabad takes against terrorists and the menace of improvised explosive devices.

The Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2013, which determines the defence budget for the fiscal 2013, was approved by the powerful House Armed Services Committee this morning following a marathon debate.

The action clears the way for consideration of the bill by the full House, scheduled for next week. The legislation provides the necessary authorities and funding for America's military. The overwhelming support to the Pakistan provision of the bill showed it had bipartisan support.

"The bill places appropriate conditions on aid to Pakistan. It is imperative that Pakistan support our counter terrorism efforts and work to prevent the interdiction of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to Afghanistan," House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Adam Smith, said yesterday.

The bill prohibits the preferential procurement of goods or services from Pakistan till Islamabad re-opens the crucial NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, which were closed in the aftermath of the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers on Nov 26 in a NATO cross border fire.

It also seeks certification from the Defence Secretary that Pakistan is committed to supporting counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda, its associated movements, the Haqqani Network, and dismantling improvised explosive device (IED) networks and interdicting precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of IEDs, and preventing proliferation of nuclear-related material and expertise.

PTI

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