Islamabad happy after US Congress rejects move to stop defence assistance to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan was on Monday delighted after the US Congress rejected move to stop defence assistance to Pakistan.

Pakistan conveyed its appreciation through diplomatic channels to the US after the positive development.

Earlier, the US Congress blocked an attempt to halt defence assistance to Pakistan due to the alleged crackdown on a political party.

Last month, Tennessee Republican Andy Ogles introduced a bill to modify the US Appropriations Bill, aiming to suspend US assistance to Pakistan as a means to discourage alleged suppression of political dissent.

The bill was voted down by a margin of 298-132 last week, emphasising the significance of the bilateral relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Masood Khan welcomed the US Congress’s decision and saw it as a reflection of positive and productive engagement between Pakistan and the US in various areas. He expressed the need to build upon this foundation to strengthen the bilateral relationship further.

Other diplomats in Islamabad said the development was appreciated. “Our sentiments have been conveyed to the US,” said one diplomat.

Another diplomat emphasised that Pakistan and the US relations were on track and this development will increase the level of trust.

In the fiscal year 2024, $135 million have been allocated for Pakistan by the US, designated for economic support, a health programme, military education and training, and countering narcotics and terrorism. 

Congressman Ogles criticised a former Pakistani Prime Minister for expressing support for the Taliban’s victory in August 2021 and making baseless allegations against Pakistan before 2021.

During the debate, Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee argued against discontinuing assistance to Pakistan.

Jackson criticised the move as “misguided” and not representative of the government and people of Pakistan. She highlighted the multifaceted relationship between the two nations, involving cooperation in defence, counterterrorism, trade, investment, and education.

She also acknowledged the sacrifices made by Pakistani soldiers during the intense phases of the Afghan war.

Barbara argued that US assistance to Pakistan was crucial for regional stability, addressing extremism, and promoting peace and security. She stressed that it was not only strategically significant but also reflected humanitarian concern for those affected by last year’s floods.

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