The US government has denied Pakistan’s reports that the US Congress had cleared $532 million to the country on the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act that needs certification on action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
“No certification has been sought for funds to Pakistan, and no funds disbursed since 2013,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a daily briefing. US grants $ 532 million to Pak, India reacts strongly
This was contrary to a newspaper report that quoted the Associated Press of Pakistan, and an official Pakistan government release saying that $532 million had been cleared, as reportedly disclosed by US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
In Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs had criticised the reported certification that cleared the aid to Pakistan.
Here is a part of the transcript of US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki’s Daily Press Briefing on the KLB Act issue:
QUESTION: Jen, on counterterrorism, there were reports in some Indian press that the Secretary has signed a certification saying that Pakistan is fully cooperating with the U.S. under the term – under the provision – counterterrorism cooperation – under the provisions of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act. I understand that’s not correct.
MS. PSAKI: That is correct that it’s not correct.
QUESTION: So can you explain how multiple Indian news agencies, outlets got this wrong?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know if can explain that, but I can tell you what the facts are. Congress has not been notified of a request. Congress has not approved a request. I think in some of the reporting, it also suggested this implied an approval of progress made. In the past – while I’m not going to get ahead of any requests we’ll make, and obviously there’ll be additional funding, I’m sure – but in the past the Department of State has employed the national interest waiver provided for in legislation, in part because all the criteria needed to – that is required to be met hasn’t been met. We obviously have that ability in the future as well.
QUESTION: Your waiver ability?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: But the wavier – there has not been any recent waiver or any recent certification?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the last – let’s see. The last certification to Congress was made under the KLB bill. With regard to Pakistani CT cooperation, the last review took place in 2013.
QUESTION: And they got a – they were fully certified, or there was a waiver —
MS. PSAKI: A waiver was used in lieu of certification, yes.
QUESTION: Do you know if there – does it say in there whether there has ever been a certification?
MS. PSAKI: I can certainly check that for you.
QUESTION: I mean —
MS. PSAKI: It doesn’t mean – and just to be – let me just add to this. It doesn’t mean that there are – there isn’t progress being made. There is just a range of requirements in order to be fully certified.
QUESTION: No, I understand that. But you don’t know off the top – at least from what you have there, whether the full – a full certification, rather than a waiver, has ever been used?
MS. PSAKI: We can check on that, Matt, I’m sure.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: So there was no waiver last year at any point? Because I think they’re usually 12-month period —
MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s a bunch of different kinds of funding, as you know. So there’s the Kerry-Lugar-Berman funding; there’s also separate appropriations funding. I’m happy to check on the appropriations funding, if there was a waiver for that. Is that your question?
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) If that’s a separate issue.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Can I just ask as well, whilst we’re on India —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: — there was —
MS. PSAKI: Oh, can we finish this and then – oh, well, let’s just —
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, India and Pakistan. It’s the —
MS. PSAKI: Is it about the funding?
MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.
QUESTION: When was the last time when Secretary gave the waiver under KLB?
MS. PSAKI: Gave a waiver? Well, there was a waiver in 2013.
QUESTION: 2013. There was none in 2014?
MS. PSAKI: On KLB.
QUESTION: On KLB.
MS. PSAKI: That was the last on KLB, yes.
QUESTION: And you said that there was no – Congress has not been notified on this, on the —
MS. PSAKI: Has not been notified of a request for funding, and obviously they haven’t approved funding, as some of the reports suggested.
QUESTION: So on December 30, there was a press statement issued by the Pakistan Ministry of Finance Affairs after the finance minister met the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, in which the ambassador is quoted as saying that the State Department has notified the Congress about releasing 532 million of U.S. aid to Pakistan in the KLB. Can you just clarify on that part?
MS. PSAKI: Congress hasn’t been notified of a new funding – amount of funding, and they haven’t approved funding. So other than that, I don’t have any other clarification.
QUESTION: So what about that amount of $532 million? Has that been released to Pakistan in – this week?
MS. PSAKI: There hasn’t been a new amount of funding notified to Congress, so no.
QUESTION: So when was the last time Pakistan was given – disbursed with the funds under KLB?
MS. PSAKI: Under KLB? Well, the last review took place in 2013.
QUESTION: So after that, no fund has been released to Pakistan?
MS. PSAKI: There are different kinds of funding. As you know —
QUESTION: But I’m talking about the —
MS. PSAKI: Under KLB?
MS. PSAKI: My understanding is 2013. We can check and see there’s anything since then.