- The Washington Times - Monday, January 4, 2021

A Republican member of Congress is pushing a bill to strip Pakistan of its status as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona introduced the legislation Sunday — the first day of the 117th Congress — in a move that drew little U.S. media notice but triggered headlines in India, which neighbors Pakistan and has long been critical of U.S.-Pakistan relations.

A statement on Mr. Biggs’ website said the goal of the legislation would be the removal of “Pakistan’s designation as a major non-NATO ally, a status that allows for various benefits such as access to excess U.S. defense supplies and participation in cooperative defense research and development projects.”

There was no indication the bill will have momentum before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Biggs is not a member of the committee.

However, the legislation comes at a moment of uncertainty over the incoming Biden administration’s posture toward Pakistan after four years of tumultuous U.S.-Pakistan relations in the Trump era.

In 2018, President Trump cut nearly a billion in American aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of undermining U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the region by allowing safe-haven to extremists, particularly the Haqqani Network. U.S. officials argue such groups have dangerously undermined American efforts to stabilize nearby Afghanistan.

Pakistan has vehemently denied the allegations, claiming to have engaged a major internal campaign against jihadists in recent years.

The Trump administration sought to “reset” the U.S.-Pakistan relationship following a warm meeting between Mr. Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House in 2019, after which much of the U.S. aid and military support for Islamabad was restored.

The legislation Mr. Biggs introduced Sunday would allow a sitting U.S. president to give Pakistan major non-NATO ally status only if the White House submits a report to Congress certifying — among other things — 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.”

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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