House panel proposes slapping restrictions on U.S. aid to Pakistan

House appropriators have proposed slapping new restrictions on the aid that Washington will send to Pakistan next year amid a chill in relations following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

A provision in the 2012 Pentagon appropriations bill that the panel unanimously approved Tuesday would keep all but 25 percent of $1.1 billion in aid intended for Islamabad in the bank until the White House provides clear details on how it would spend the cash.

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The remaining 75 percent of the “Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund” would be subject to the Obama administration providing lawmakers a report detailing its “strategy to utilize the fund and the metrics used to determine progress with respect to the fund,” according to a report accompanying the committee’s bill.

The move comes as more and more U.S. lawmakers and voters express support for ending the Afghanistan war in the wake of bin Laden’s death in Pakistan at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs. 

The report also would have to specify the administration’s strategic goals in Pakistan, and state which terrorist and anti-U.S. groups are operating from there.

The House panel also wants details on the “gaps” in the capabilities of Pakistan’s indigenous security forces, and an explanation of how aid funds would address such shortcomings.

The proposed report would have to describe the administration’s metrics for measuring progress toward its objectives in Pakistan, as well as how it would determine whether Islamabad is having success going after terrorist and anti-U.S. groups operating on its soil.

Additionally, the panel approved an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE (R-Ariz.) that would create a new reporting period for Pakistani aid.

If included in the final version of 2011 DoD appropriations legislation, the Flake amendment would allow Congress 30 days to review how the Pakistan dollars would be spent — and potentially block such expenditures.

Flake said some lawmakers want to go even further and “cut off” aid to Pakistan.

The “performance or non-performance” of officials in Islamabad in supporting the U.S. mission in that region “rubs a lot of people the wrong way," Flake said.

Obama administration and Pentagon officials continue to warn against any moves that would sever U.S.-Pakistani relationships.

Asked Thursday about U.S.-Pakistan relations, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “we need each other.”

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The relationship has had “ebbs and flows,” Gates said. Pakistani officials feel Washington has abandoned them at least four times in the past, he said.

“It’s a relationship that both sides have had to work on,” Gates said. “It is complicated.”

Adm. Michael Mullen, Joint Chiefs chairman, said the Pakistanis are doing some “introspection” after U.S. forces raided bin Laden’s Pakistan compound and left with his body. Washington should give Islamabad “some time and some space” to do that, Mullen said.

If the U.S. cuts ties with Islamabad now, it would just be a matter of time before that region “is that much more dangerous,” Mullen said.

“There would be a huge pull for us to return and protect our national interests,” Mullen added.