Washington, DC – The House Committee on Foreign Affairs today approved bipartisan legislation creating a new, more positive framework for U.S.-Pakistan relations.
“This legislation would massively expand economic, social and democracy assistance to Pakistan, and also provide a significant increase in military assistance,” Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) said. “We need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan, strengthen its democratic government, and do what we can to make Pakistan a force for stability in a volatile region."
The Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (HR 1886) triples U.S. economic assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year, with a particular focus on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic development and improving Pakistan's public education system, with an emphasis on access for women and girls. The bill also establishes a permanent Pakistan Democracy and Prosperity Fund for non-military assistance, which demonstrates America’s long-term commitment to Pakistan’s democratic future.
To ensure that U.S. assistance is truly benefiting the people of Pakistan, the legislation requires rigorous oversight and auditing. It establishes a set of principles that should govern U.S.-Pakistan ties, including the actions that the two countries should take to maintain a robust, relevant and lasting relationship. For example, the bill explains that U.S. assistance is intended to supplement, not supplant, Pakistan’s own efforts in building a stable and secure Pakistan, and that U.S. assistance will be wholly ineffective without Pakistan’s own serious efforts to improve the lives of its citizens.
H.R. 1886 authorizes military assistance to help Pakistan disrupt and defeat al Qaeda and insurgent elements, and requires that the vast majority of such assistance be focused on critical counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts. In addition, the bill requires that all military assistance flow through the democratically elected Government of Pakistan. Finally, the legislation includes accountability measures for military assistance, including a requirement that the Government of Pakistan has demonstrated a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups and has made progress towards that end.
"Contrary to what some have said, these are not 'rigid' or 'inflexible' conditions." Berman said. To ensure that the President has sufficient flexibility, we provide a waiver if he is unable to make the determinations. I think this is an excellent bill that will strengthen the critical U.S.-Pakistan relationship and support U.S. national security objectives in South Asia."