U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law, the Kerry Lugar Bill that will provide USD 7.5 billion aid to Pakistan in the next five years, a day after the Congress assured Islamabad that the legislation does not seek to compromise its sovereignty and national interests.
Mr. Obama signed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 — popularly known as Kerry Lugar Bill, a day before the expiry of the mandatory 10 days time after the bill was sent to him by the Congress.
“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 in a statement.
Mr. Gibbs said that the new law was based on a shared commitment to improving living conditions in Pakistan, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and combating extremism that threatens both Pakistan and the United States.
Mr. Obama’s move came after days of drama over the package, which saw Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi rush to Washington after the country’s powerful Army opposed to certain conditions of the legislation.
The bill lays down a programme for USD 7.5 billion non-military aid to Pakistan over the next five years, tripling the US aid to the country.
The Pakistan Army last week raised serious concerns over the provision requiring periodical assessments by the US Secretary of State to provide certification that the military is not subverting Pakistan’s political and judicial processes.
These assessments have to include a “description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration“.
The assessments also have to verify whether US aid is being diverted “directly or indirectly” to expand Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.
The bill also asks Pakistan to cease support to terrorist groups on its soil, dismantle terrorist camps in Quetta, Muridke and other areas that threaten its neighbours.
The Bill also asks Pakistan to provide information or direct access to the proliferation network operating in Pakistan without mentioning disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan by name.
The provisions were being viewed as “highly intrusive” by the Pakistani military establishment, which raised its concerns and reservations at a meeting of corps commanders, chaired by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani last week.
The US Congress on Wednesday issued an “explanatory statement” in an effort to placate the concerns of Pakistan on the aid bill which says that the legislation does not seek in any way to compromise Islamabad’s sovereignty and impinge on its security interests.
“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,” said the explanatory note attached to the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.