Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2009
The US has denied that Washington’s giant aid package will impose certain ‘conditions’ on Pakistan, following charges that the lucrative bill violates the country’s sovereignty.
“There is absolutely nothing in this bill related to private security firms or drone attacks or other issues being raised by the press,” Senator John Kerry, a key planner of the Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB), said in a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday.
“There is nothing in this bill that impinges on Pakistani sovereignty ‚ÄĒ period, end of issue. And we have no intention of doing so,” Kerry added in the hastily arranged meeting.
Kerry also pledged to provide Pakistan with a congressional report clarifying Islamabad’s concerns.
Last month, US Congress approved the plan to provide Pakistan with a $7.5 billion aid over the next five years.
Critics say although the non-military bill is to assist Islamabad, it insists on controlling the way the money is channeled. This has brought a public uproar in Pakistan, where anti-US sentiments run high.
Qureshi, who was only in Washington last week, rushed back to Capitol Hill after his country’s powerful military and opposition parties led a backlash against the bill.
During a debate in Pakistan’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday, the majority of senators rejected the KLB, calling on the government to honor public opinion and punish those who were behind the lobbying of this bill.
Qureshi has stressed that Pakistan would never compromise on its sovereignty and called on the US to address Islamabad’s concerns.
The developments come as the US also considers extending to Pakistan its military campaign in Afghanistan, which, despite bringing about thousands of civilian casualties, has fallen short of arresting or eliminating any key militant leaders.
This article was posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 10:40 am