ISLAMABAD - The United States would reimburse $352 million to Pakistan under coalition support fund by February 6, as US Secretary of Defence had signed the authorisation for payment to Islamabad under CSF. This was said by US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson while talking to Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Friday.
During the meeting they discussed matters of mutual interest particularly relating to forthcoming strategic dialogue scheduled to be held in Washington next week.
Ambassador Olson confirmed that the meeting of the Economic Working Group of the two countries would be held in Washington in April 2014.
The finance minister said Pakistan had successfully achieved the economic targets set for itself for the half year period ending December 2013.
Special Correspondent from Washington adds: The United States is reviewing a law passed by the Congress last week that cut aid to Pakistan by $33 million until the release of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped CIA in the hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the State Department has said.
“We are reviewing the language and the law, and obviously we’ll comply with the law,” the Department’s Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf, said at the daily press briefing on Thursday when a journalist drew her attention to the rejection by Pakistan of the US bill linking the aid to Dr Afridi’s release.
The $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Bill 2014, approved by US Congress, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 17.
As an omnibus legislation, it contains respective Appropriation Bills for all government departments, including the Department of Defence and the Department of State.
Shakil Afridi was arrested soon after the May 2011 raid by US commandos in which Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. He was subsequently sentenced to 33 years in jail after being charged under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) for having links with a banned terrorist organisation.
“Our position on Dr Afridi has not changed. It’s long been clear. We believe his treatment is unjust and unwarranted,” Harf told reporters.
“We regret that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence and would argue that his prosecution and conviction sends absolutely the wrong message about the fight against Al- Qaeda, about the importance of our shared interest in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. So again, we’ll review the legislation and comply with whatever law ends up being put in place,” Harf said.
“Our position hasn’t changed, that I think his prosecution and conviction sends the wrong message about how important it was to bring the world’s most wanted terrorist to justice. I think that’s probably the only message I have for the Pakistani government on this one,” she added.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will host Sartaj Aziz, the National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser of Pakistan in Washington next week for the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting.
This would be the first high-level meeting between the leaders of the two sides after October, when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had met President Barack Obama at the White House and the two sides agreed to work together on meeting their common goal of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“We work with the Pakistani government on a wide range of issues, whether it’s economic issues, environmental issues, energy issues certainly we talk about quite a bit, and obviously regional security issues,” Harf said.