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Wednesday 18 January 2017
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Obama signs $618 billion defence bill; boosts security ties with India

US President Barack Obama has signed into law the USD 618 billion defence budget for 2017, which enhances security cooperation with India and conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.

President Obama, who is currently vacationing in Hawaii, signed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, which asks Defence Secretary and Secretary of State to take steps necessary to recognize India as America’s “major defence partner”.

A summary of the bill released by Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain said NDAA-2017 “enhances security cooperation” between the US and India.

It also asks the administration to appoint an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through inter-agency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defence trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.

The NDAA, which among other things creates a USD 1.2 billion Counter-ISIL Fund, imposes four conditions on Pakistan to be eligible for USD 400 million of the USD 900 million of the coalition support fund (CSF).

The US Defence Secretary needs to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan and that Islamabad has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any of its territory as a safe haven.