A key US Senator and architect of the Congressional bill, which doles out $7.5 billion to Pakistan in the next five years, said that “no conditions” have been imposed on Islamabad in lieu of the non-military aid.
“There is no conditionality whatsoever in this legislation (Kerry-Lugar bill) with respect to civilian assistance and the economic assistance that is provided. No conditionality. It is unfortunate the bill has been characterised in some quarters in ways that are just not accurate,” Mr. Kerry said.
Mr. Kerry, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and its Ranking member Richard Lugar have authored a bill that pledges $7.5 billion of civilian aid to Pakistan for the next five years.
The bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously has been sent to the White House for the US President Barack Obama to sign it into law.
“This bill should be seen as a real sign of friendship of the American people towards people of Pakistan, not towards the government specifically,” Mr. Kerry told reporters at the Capitol Hill on Tuesday after he and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met the visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Mr. Qureshi and Lugar also addressed the press. “The United States is pledging $7.5 billion to Pakistani people to spur economic progress,” Mr. Kerry said.
Denying media reports that the bill imposes conditions on Pakistan to take action against terrorists in lieu of the aid, the Senator said: “I want to emphasise again, there is no conditions attached to $7.5 billion in non-military aid (to Pakistan).”
However, Mr. Kerry said there are strict measures of financial accountability that Congress “we as representative of American people” are required and the US executive branch is required to place. “That is simply to make sure that the money is spent in the way that the American people sent it to Pakistan.”
Mr. Kerry said: “The conditions on military aid do not require anything on Pakistan that is not already stated policy of the Government and the opposition party. It is already agreed upon. There is absolutely nothing on this bill related to private security firms, drone attacks, or host of other issues that are being tangled together by the press. There is nothing in this bill that impinges on Pakistani sovereignty.”
In his remarks, Mr. Qureshi commended the efforts of the US Congress to pass the legislation, which he said was landmark for the people of Pakistan and reflects the long term commitment of the United States to his country.
“This $7.5 billion in economic assistance is free of conditionality. Let the people of Pakistan know, it is free of conditionality. There is no question of Pakistan sovereignty being compromised. There is no question of a micro-management from the US Senate or the US Administration,” Mr. Qureshi said.
Terming the Kerry-Lugar bill as a new chapter in US-Pak partnership, Mr. Qureshi said: “People of Pakistan would benefit out of it.”
During his three-day trip to Washington, Mr. Qureshi also met members of the House Committee on Foreign Relations including its Chairman Howard Berman.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Qureshi met the Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke.
“We are very pleased with the strong Pakistani actions in the area of economy. These have made very positive impressions here. We are very pleased that the Congress passed the Kerry-Lugar bill with a unanimous and consent. It is a very strong demonstration of Congressional support for the people of Pakistan,” Mr. Holbrooke said.
Noting that the legislation is an expression of the will of the US Congress and the executive branch, Mr. Holbrooke said: “This shows the Democrats, the Republicans, the Congress and the White House are all on the same page in supporting Pakistan.”