Obama signs $1.5 billion a year Pakistan aid package

By Branko Brkic 16 October 2009

US President Barack Obama has signed the new aid package for Pakistan into US law, following growing tension over the proposed aid which Pakistanis complained represented foreign interference in its internal affairs. It also came just hours after a series of apparently coordinated attacks throughout northern Pakistan killed 40 people.   Explaining the purpose of this aid bill, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said,  "This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the US, as evidenced by its bipartisan, bicameral and unanimous passage in Congress."  Opponents in Pakistan originally balked at what they saw as conditions on how the money could be spent, including calls for action in curtailing the anti-Indian militant movements Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, and provisions that would cut-off security assistance if Pakistan failed to crack down on local extremists.  The brouhaha finally ended when Senator John Kerry and Representative Howard Berman, who head committees handling foreign relations in Congress, gave Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi a document that had been entered into "The Congressional Record" (equivalent to the local "Hansard") stating that the plan did not impose conditions or infringe on Pakistani sovereignty and said the aid was meant "to forge a closer collaborative relationship between Pakistan and the US, not to dictate the national policy or impinge on the sovereignty of Pakistan in any way." Did you expect it to be otherwise?

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