The US Senate, it seems, has finally realized that it will be hard to achieve concrete gains without Islamabad’s partnership in Afghanistan. The Congress has struck down a clause in the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 that was aimed to ensure that Pakistan had taken action against the activities of not only Haqqani network but also Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
According to the new draft of the Act mentioned above, the US Defence Secretary would only need to certify Pakistan’s actions, if he thinks appropriate, as worthy of causing significant disruption in Haqqani Network’s activities. It can be seen as a move on the part of the US to focus on Afghanistan; which it should, considering the CSF was set up to reimburse Pakistan for its efforts in Afghanistan. The earlier version of the Act gave the impression that Pakistan should change its position on Kashmir as well.
However, the joint version of the Act puts a limitation on transfer of the amounts that Pakistan shall receive as reimbursements from the US Coalition Support Fund. Half of the amount will be subject to Defence Secretary’s certification that will determine if Pakistan took serious actions against Haqqani network within the country. In short, the certification of the Defence Secretary can be seen as a checklist of the ‘Do More’ agenda. Nonetheless, limiting the certificate to Afghanistan will bring some real victories. Furthermore, the CSF reimbursements subject to Afghanistan will also prove helpful in removing the impression that Washington is blindingly toeing the Indian line in Kashmir.
The delinking of Haqqani Network and LeT from each other shows the presence of sane heads in the US Senate with a better understanding of Af-Pak situation. But the mere fact that LeT was once part of CSF bill should warn Pakistan of its weak lobbying efforts in the policy circles of the US government, compared to the rampant Indian lobbying machine.