US House links aid to Pakistan with fight against terrorism (Lead)

June 12th, 2009 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 12 (IANS) The US House of Representatives has passed a bill proposing to triple US non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year but linking military assistance to Islamabad demonstrating a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups.

The Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement (PEACE) Act 2009 passed by a vote of 234 to 185 Thursday also authorises military assistance to help Pakistan disrupt and defeat Al Qaeda and insurgent elements, and requires that the vast majority of such assistance be focused on critical counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts.

In addition, the bill requires that all military assistance flow through the democratically elected Government of Pakistan. The legislation includes accountability measures for military assistance, including a requirement that the Government of Pakistan has demonstrated a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups and has made progress towards that end.

“We fully appreciate the urgency of the situation in Pakistan and the need for appropriate flexibility,” said Howard L. Berman, Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We are simply asking Pakistan to follow through with the commitments it has already made. And in the process we lay down an important marker that Congress will no longer provide a ‘blank check’,” he added.

The bill also establishes a permanent Pakistan Democracy and Prosperity Fund for most non-military assistance, demonstrating America’s long-term commitment to Pakistan’s democratic future.

“We need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan’s democratic government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region,” Berman said. “This legislation helps to lay the foundation for a stronger, more stable Pakistan.”

To ensure that US assistance is truly benefiting the people of Pakistan, the legislation requires rigorous oversight and auditing, Berman said.

It establishes a set of principles that should govern US-Pakistan ties, including the actions that the two countries should take together to maintain a robust, relevant and lasting relationship.

For example, the bill explains that US assistance is intended to supplement, not supplant, Pakistan’s own efforts to establish stability and lasting security, and that US assistance will be wholly ineffective without Pakistan’s own serious efforts to improve the lives of its citizens.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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Posted in South Asia |

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