Senate bill strips references to India for conditional aid to Pakistan

May 5th, 2009 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 5 (IANS) Two influential US senators have introduced a bill to triple American aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion annually for five years, with some exacting conditions but stripped of references to India to make it more palatable to Islamabad.

Introduced Monday on the eve of President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Washington, the ‘Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009′ incorporates exacting conditions for aid in keeping with President Barack Obama’s promise that there would be no “blank cheque” for Pakistan.

However, the bill sponsored by Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry and the top Republican on the panel Richard Lugar drops all specific references to India.

The House bill moved by the House Foreign Affairs panel chairman Howard Berman, ‘Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (the PEACE Act)’, makes aid to Pakistan contingent on, among other benchmarks, stopping all Kashmiri militant groups from operating from the Pakistani soil and on Pakistan giving an undertaking that it will not allow its territory to be used for any armed attack against or inside India.

The Kerry-Lugar bill, on the other hand, frames the condition in a broader context. Among other things, it conditions military aid on certification that the Pakistani security forces are making concerted efforts to prevent Al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups from operating in the territory of Pakistan.

It also makes aid conditional on Pakistan making concerted efforts to prevent the Taliban from using Pakistan as a sanctuary from which to launch attacks within Afghanistan and are not materially interfering in the political or judicial processes of Pakistan.

The so-called ‘Detailed Pakistan Assistance Strategy’ also requires the president to submit a semi-annual report to Congress that describes in detail the assistance provided to Pakistan under this Act and “assesses the effectiveness of US assistance, including any incidents of waste, fraud, and abuse”.

It also requires the secretary of state, after consulting with the secretary of defence and the director of national intelligence, to submit to Congress an annual report on the progress Pakistani security forces have made in fighting extremism.

The bill authorises $7.5 billion over the next five years ($1.5 billion annually for FY 2009 -2013) that is “intended to emphasise economic growth and development”, and advocates an additional $7.5 billion over the subsequent five years.

This amount is separate from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements that Pakistan gets for servicing US presence in Afghanistan for which the bill recommends greater oversight.

Introducing the bipartisan bill, Kerry and Lugar detailed Obama’s endorsement of their legislation as part of his comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that lays equal importance to “diplomacy and development to provide economic stability and diminish the conditions that feed extremism”.

“While our bill envisions sustained economic and political cooperation with Pakistan, it is not a blank cheque,” Lugar said. “It expects that the military institutions in Pakistan will turn their attention to the extremist dangers within Pakistan’s borders.”

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