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Pakistan Army Concerned About US Aid Bill

By VOA News
07 October 2009

Pakistan's top military commanders have issued a statement expressing "serious concern" over conditions in an unprecedented $7.5 billion U.S. aid bill.

The generals are sending civilian officials a formal notice about the military's reservations about some of the bill's clauses, which they say affect Pakistan's national security. But the military said Pakistan's parliament would make the final decision over whether to accept the aid.

The Kerry-Lugar bill could limit the amount of aid Pakistan receives if the United States believes the country is not making a sustained commitment against Taliban and al Qaida fighters.

Pakistan's military has no formal role in political deliberations, but its opinions in matters of national security are extremely influential with lawmakers, who are debating the issue Wednesday.

Top civilian officials in Pakistan have welcomed the U.S. bill, which would triple non-military aid to the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried Tuesday to dispel concerns that the bill would undermine Pakistan's sovereignty, saying the program is a sincere effort to help the people of Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in Washington Tuesday he is convinced that the Obama administration will not try to "micro-manage" Pakistani affairs.

The Kerry-Lugar bill provides up to $1.5 billion per year for five years for development, boosting the country's economy and building state institutions. It also provides funds for training Pakistan's security forces.

The bill calls for U.S. officials to periodically verify that Pakistan is trying to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, crack down on Taliban and al Qaida linked militants and prevent them from plotting attacks elsewhere. It also calls for verification that Pakistan's security forces are not subverting the country's political and judicial processes.

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