Washington: The US Senate has approved $680 billion in defence budget, part of which earmarks military assistance to Pakistan with a rider that it can only be used to fight Al-Qaeda and Taliban, amid fears that the aid was being diverted by Islamabad for a build-up against India.
The Department of Defence Authorisation bill for the year 2010 was passed by the Senate on Friday with a vote of 87-7 with an amendment that Pakistan should use funds given to it as military assistance only to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The bi-partisan amendment was introduced by two Senators - Robert Menendez and Bob Corker - amidst growing apprehensions among lawmakers that the American tax-payers’ money given to Islamabad to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda was being used to build up its army against India.
The Menendez-Corker legislative language would mandate a certification by the US secretary of state and secretary of defence, before Pakistan is reimbursed with Coalition Support Funds, that the payment is both in the national security interests of the US, and will not affect the balance of power in the region.
“To this point, almost eight years and more than seven billion in American tax-payer dollars for Pakistan’s military have not prevented the Taliban and al-Qaeda from regrouping along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” Menendez said.