NATO supply blockade: US mulls tit for Pakistan’s tat

* Proposed law seeks to financially squeeze Pakistan if interruptions to NATO ground supply route continue * NDAA 2014 seeks certification from US defence secretary that Pakistan is taking action against Qaeda, other militants along the Pak-Afghan border
NATO supply blockade: US  mulls tit for Pakistan’s tat

WASHINGTON: A new law that has the White House’s approval is set to create all sorts of problems for Islamabad, seeking to fiscally squeeze Pakistan if interruptions to the US/NATO ground supply route through the country continue.
In addition, the US National Defence Authorisation Bill of 2014 seeks a certification from the US defence secretary that Pakistan is taking demonstrable actions against al Qaeda and other militant groups active along the Pak-Afghan border.
It also seek the defence secretary to certify that “... Pakistan is maintaining security and is not through its actions or inactions at any level of government limiting or otherwise restricting the movement of US equipment and supplies along the Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs) through Pakistan to Afghanistan so that such equipment and supplies can be trans-shipped and such equipment and supplies can be retrograded out of Afghanistan.”
The development comes on the heels of Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent visit to Pakistan during which he was reported to have warned of the mood in the US Congress souring on Pakistan.
The bill, already approved by the House of Representatives, includes a one-year extension for reimbursing Pakistan for supporting the US-led war on terror.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the White House noted, “The bill will, among other things, assist the armed forces in operating in unconventional and irregular warfare and countering unconventional threats, support capacity building efforts with foreign military forces, and support contingency or stability operations.”
The bill includes a section, which extends funding Pakistan’s counter-terrorism activities for one year with certain modifications.
In a section titled ‘Limitation on amounts available’, it reduces the amount available for reimbursing Pakistan from $1.65 billion in 2013 to $1.5 billion in 2014.
It also says that no amount authorised to be appropriated by this bill, and no amount authorised to be appropriated for fiscal years before 2014 that remain available for obligation, may be used for reimbursing Pakistan, until the US secretary of defence certifies to the congressional defence committees.
The bill also requires the secretary to certify that Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the US to persecute minority groups for their legitimate and non-violent political and religious beliefs, including the Baloch, Sindhi, and Hazara ethnic groups and minority religious groups, including Christian, Hindu and members of the Ahmadiya community. 
The bill, however, authorises the US secretary of defence to waive the limitation if the secretary certifies to the congressional defence committees in writing that the waiver is in the national security interests of the United States and includes with such certification a justification for the waiver. 
“Although the bill includes a number of provisions that restrict or limit the Defence Department’s ability to align military capabilities and force structure with the president’s strategy and implement certain efficiencies, overall the administration is pleased with the modifications and improvements contained in the bill,” the White House said.
The bill addresses “most of the administration’s significant objections with earlier versions regarding these issues and the administration supports passage of the legislation,” it added.
The National Defence Authorisation Act also provides $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, namely the 12-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Passage ensures an NDAA will be signed into law on time for the 53rd consecutive year, something that appeared to be in doubt earlier this month when tussles over other legislation like the recently passed budget agreement and executive nominations stalled the defence bill. 

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