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US waives off legal requirements in aid to Pakistan

Washington: Encouraged by the recent “positive engagement” with Pakistan, US has waived off the necessary legal requirements for the USD 2 billion aid to Islamabad, saying that the step was in America’s national interest.

“Secretary Clinton has decided to exercise her authority to waive in FY 2012 certification requirements on certain civilian and security assistance to Pakistan. The Secretary has determined that such assistance is in the US national security interest,” a State Department official told PTI on Saturday.

“It is a critical component of US efforts to continue to build a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan grounded in concrete action on areas of shared interest,” the official said.

“Continuation of civilian assistance remains an important tool to further our objective of cooperating with Pakistan to build more capable civilian state institutions, foster economic growth, and improve the lives of ordinary Pakistanis through better health and education opportunities,” the official said justifying the decision.

“Despite recent challenges with Pakistan, we are encouraged by recent positive engagement, including meetings in Washington and on the margins of the UN General Assembly and Pakistan’s participation in recent Core Group meetings with Afghanistan,” the State Department official said speaking on condition on anonymity.

According to the latest report of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in mid-August 2012, the State Department quietly notified Congress of its intention to cite US national security provisions in waiving two certification requirements that placed conditions on US assistance to Pakistan.

These provisions required the Secretary to certify that Pakistan was cooperating with the United States on a range of counter terrorism, nonproliferation, democracy, and other issue-areas.

On September 13, the State Department formally notified Congress that the Administration would continue the US aid flow by waiving certifications required in Section 203 of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 and in Section 7046 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, finding that it was in the national security interest of the United States to do so, the report said.

“This marks the first time the Obama Administration has waived aid sanctions on Pakistan. Congress had permanently waived all proliferation and debt-arrearage sanctions on Pakistan in October 2002, and the Bush Administration issued six waivers of democracy-related sanctions?for FY 2002 -FY 2007 ?until these were permanently waived following an April 2008 determination that a democratic government had been restored in Islamabad,” the CRS report said.

“This waiver was similarly made under the law’s national security provision,” the report said.

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