Obama tags anti-terror terms to Pakistan aid package


Washington: President Barack Obama Thursday signed a bill tripling non-military aid to Pakistan to about $7.5 billion over the next five years but keeping intact conditions like Islamabad ending support for extremist groups targeting the US and India.

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“This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the US, as evidenced by its bipartisan, bicameral, unanimous passage in Congress,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said as the president signed the bill before leaving on a trip to New Orleans.

Obama signed the legislation after his administration and US lawmakers sought to soothe ruffled feathers in Pakistan over anti-terror strings by saying there was no intention to “micromanage internal Pakistani affairs”, while making clear the legislation would not be changed.

Gibbs said Obama wants to engage Pakistan on the basis of a strategic partnership “grounded in support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the Pakistani people.”

The aid package conditioned on Pakistan ending support for extremist groups targeting neighbours like India and its military staying out of civilian politics has been widely criticised by Pakistanis who fear it would lead to American interference in their country’s affairs.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had rushed back to Washington this week to report on the Pakistani parliament’s opposition to the five-year package of non-military aid. Some Pakistani politicians said the aid bill was an American attempt to micro-manage Pakistan’s civilian and military affairs.

The key element of the statement attached to the aid bill as it was signed into law, is that no interference was intended with Pakistani civilian and military operations.

The statement says the bill sets out a variety of requirements to ensure US efficiency and compliance, and places no new

conditions on the government of Pakistan.

“The many requirements of this report are intended as a way for Congress to assess how effectively US funds are being spent, shortfalls in US resources that hinder the use of such funds, and steps the government of Pakistan has taken to advance our mutual interests in countering extremism and nuclear proliferation and strengthening democratic institutions,” the statement says.

“There is no intent to, and nothing in this act in any way suggests that there should be, any US role in micromanaging internal Pakistani affairs, including the promotion of Pakistani military officers or the internal operations of the Pakistani military.”