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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. pledges $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan

RIA Novosti

21:52 15/10/2009 WASHINGTON, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation on Thursday providing Pakistan with $7.5 billion in aid over the next five years, the White House said.

"This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the U.S., as evidenced by its bipartisan, bicameral, unanimous passage in Congress," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The bill has come under fierce criticism in Pakistan, with the country's opposition claiming such a large package could prove dangerous for the country's sovereignty.

Pakistan's military is upset because the release of some of the funds is conditional on the fight against Islamic militants, seen by critics as interference in country's internal affairs. Pakistan has been rocked by a series of deadly attacks by suspected Taliban militants in recent weeks.

Obama signed the bill after the U.S. Congress offered assurances that the concerns were groundless, while making clear the legislation would not be changed.

Gibbs said Obama's intention was to support "Pakistan's democratic institutions and the Pakistani people."

Besides fighting militants, the aid is designed to fund various projects in Pakistan, including schools and roads, agricultural development, energy generation, water resource management, and the judicial system.

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