The U.S. on Wednesday rejected Pakistan’s last minute bid to seek a change in the text of the Kerry Lugar Bill providing $7.5 billion aid to that country, asserting that it did not impinge on its sovereignty as claimed by the Pakistan Army.
As U.S. President Barack Obama prepared to sign the Bill for aid over the next five years into law, senior officials made it clear to visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that they were unlikely to make any changes in the Bill, while accusing its opponents of misinterpreting the legislation to serve their own interests.
“I know a number of countries have conditional aid based on meeting certain important criteria. I think the President believes this is appropriate. I think the opponents of this bill... either are misinformed or are characterising this in a different way for their own political purposes,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Senator John Kerry, co-author of the Bill, also held talks with Mr. Qureshi who was rushed by the Pakistan government to Washington in a last minute bid to address concerns over the Bill back home.
“There is nothing in this bill that impinges on Pakistani sovereignty — period, end of issue. And we have no intention of doing so,” Mr. Kerry, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a joint news conference with Mr. Qureshi.