US Senate approves sweeping Pakistan aid package

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  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    US Senate approves sweeping Pakistan aid package

    US Senate approves sweeping Pakistan aid package

    by Staff Writers
    Washington (AFP) June 25, 2009
    The US Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to triple civilian US aid to Pakistan, a bid to cement a long-term partnership and defeat Islamist fighters threatening the nuclear-armed ally's stability.

    Lawmakers unanimously approved the plan.

    The package provides 7.5 billion dollars in humanitarian and economic aid over five years, recommends that level for another five years, while tying US military aid to progress against extremists.

    "This legislation marks an important step toward sustained economic and political cooperation with Pakistan," said Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    The House of Representatives passed its version of the legislation in mid-June, and the two chambers must now work out and approve a compromise bill before President Barack Obama can sign the measure into law.

    "Pakistan is facing a critical moment," said Democratic Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after lawmakers agreed to approve it without dissent.

    Kerry crafted the bill with Lugar.

    Supporters of the measure say they hope it will convince Pakistanis who are deeply skeptical of US support and goals that Washington stands with them against Islamists over the long haul and has their best interests at heart.

    "Today the Senate has made a clear bipartisan commitment to replace an atmosphere of mutual distrust and lack of accountability with a broad-based, durable commitment to Pakistan and its people," said Kerry.

    The measure separates civilian aid aimed at boosting education, democratic governance, and sustainable economic growth for Pakistan's 170 million people from military assistance, which would be approved on a year-to-year basis.

    It ties military aid to certification that Pakistan security forces are doing their utmost against Al-Qaeda and similar groups, and requires Pakistan to stop the Taliban from using Pakistan's territory as a base.

    But it does not materially interfere in the country's political or judicial processes.

    It also calls for benchmarks for measuring the effectiveness of US assistance at a time when many in the US Congress are openly skeptical of the effectiveness and desirability of boosting aid to Islamabad.

    It would also require Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in cooperation with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, to craft annual reports on Pakistani security forces.

    Clinton would also be directed to work up a comprehensive strategy with Gates and Blair for coping with violence along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

    The Obama administration has chafed at setting conditions on economic aid to Islamabad, which the House of Representatives version does.

    Obama has made rooting out extremism from Afghanistan and Pakistan a major priority. US officials in the past have accused rogue elements in the Pakistani military and intelligence service of secretly abetting extremists.

    The US president, Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton all co-sponsored legislation nearly identical to the Senate version when they were senators.

    Pakistani troops are wrapping up an almost two-month-long operation against Taliban rebels in northwest Swat valley.

    They are preparing to launch a second front against feared Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud and his network along the rugged tribal belt.

    Worsening Taliban-linked attacks have killed almost 2,000 people in Pakistan since July 2007.

    Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, is slated to visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to review implementation of US strategy in the region.

    Earlier Wednesday Pakistani officials said US missile strikes had killed dozens of people in a a tribal area controlled by Mehsud.

    Drone aircraft, which are only deployed by US forces in the region, hit Taliban positions on Tuesday then struck again as hundreds of people gathered for a funeral in Mehsud's northwest tribal stronghold of South Waziristan.

    "We have initial reports that are not confirmed but the casualties are somewhere between 20 to 30," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP in Islamabad.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India alarmed by Pakistan arms

    India alarmed by Pakistan arms


    Defence Minister A K Antony addressing the Unified Commanders Conference at South Block in New Delhi on Thursday.
    Express News Service
    First Published : 26 Jun 2009 12:59:00 AM IST
    Last Updated : 27 Jun 2009 01:22:10 PM IST

    NEW DELHI: Ahead of talks with US national security advisor James Jones, India today expressed concerns about the Pakistan army being armed to the teeth with sophisticated weapons in the name of fighting terrorism.

    The displeasure was made known by Defence Minister A K Antony who addressed the first Joint Commanders’ Conference of the three Services after the formation of the new government.

    The conclave of the country’s top military leaders took stock of the situation in the region and reviewed the steps taken to strengthen the security apparatus within the country.

    Antony said that much of the highly sophisticated defence equipment supplied to Pakistan
    was not really meant to develop its capacity to fight terror. Antony termed the Taliban a real threat to India.

    Jones, who was briefed in Islamabad on Thursday about the ongoing military offensive, will hold talks in New Delhi on Friday with Indian officials.

    The former marine is in the sub-continent to see the implementation of the Af-Pak policy.

    New Delhi is not very impressed by the military operation against the Taliban as it is disturbed by the fact that Pakistan is doing nothing to check anti-India terrorists.

    “The situation in Pakistan is still in turmoil and it is a matter of great concern to us. We are trying to convince Pakistan that it has to take strict action against anti-India elements operating in Pakistan. Then only can both countries move forward and improve relations,” Antony said, claiming that India could not afford to lower its guard along the western border. India is likely to take part in an Af-Pak meeting on the sidelines of the G-8 in Italy later this week. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also expected to be in New Delhi next month when the Obama administration’s India vision will be unfolded.

    While seeking to engage the US, Antony asked his commanders to shed the traditional approach of combating threats. He said individual forces could not make their own plan on terror and stressed that modern warfare was all about jointness.

    “Jointness seeks the development of core competence by each service and the synergising of these capabilities. The requisite response can then be chosen from a menu of capabilities to achieve specific military goals,” he said.
     
  4. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    US aid to Pakistan

    Dawn Editorial
    Sunday, 21 Jun, 2009 | 08:24 AM PST |



    [​IMG]
    The US must reassure Pakistan that the ‘transactional’ relationship is no more. — File Photo


    As part of a $106bn emergency spending bill passed by the US Congress on Friday, $1.4bn of economic and security aid have been flagged for Pakistan. The sum includes aid for the IDPs, economic and developmental assistance and $700m for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which will be available until September 2011.

    The money is not linked to the Kerry-Lugar/Berman bills wending their way through Congress and which pledge to provide $1.5bn of non-military aid a year to Pakistan for five, and perhaps 10, years. There is also a separate amount, roughly $1bn a year, which is set aside in the Coalition Support Funds to compensate Pakistan for its efforts in the fight against militancy. Notwithstanding the money in the pipeline from the US, there is some debate in Pakistan that the country is getting a raw deal in its alliance with the US.

    Compared to what has been spent on Iraq and Afghanistan — the latest emergency spending bill takes the total of such funding since 9/11 close to $1tr, 70 per cent of which has been spent on Iraq — Pakistan has received a pittance despite the fact that the country has suffered enormously from terrorism.

    Be that as it may, there are some other hard facts involved. First, Pakistan faces a problem of terrorism and militancy today that cannot in good faith be laid squarely at the feet of the Americans. Last week, an arrest was made in connection with the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in March in Lahore. The man arrested and the six others identified as suspects so far belong to the ‘Punjabi Taliban’, an amorphous network of militant groups of which the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is perhaps the most formidable.

    Innumerable terrorist attacks inside Pakistan in recent times have been blamed on the Punjabi Taliban, which is believed to provide the manpower and operational capabilities for Al Qaeda and other elements in the toxic brew of militancy here. Second, few of Pakistan’s other international allies and friends have provided any significant aid to fight terrorism here — not China, not Saudi Arabia, not the Gulf states.

    American aid to Pakistan, then, must be seen in the context of what is the problem of terrorism and militancy here and what other allies are doing to help us. Having said that, there is still too much chatter about ‘conditionalities’ and ‘aid with strings’ from the US for comfort. No country should be expected to simply give away money, but the US must reassure Pakistan that the ‘transactional’ relationship is no more.


    DAWN.COM | Pakistan | US aid to Pakistan
     
  5. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    India wants benchmarks for US aid to Pakistan

    Washington, June 30, 2009
    First Published: 09:15 IST(30/6/2009)
    Last Updated: 10:56 IST(30/6/2009)


    [​IMG]


    Stating that India welcomes economic assistance to Pakistan, the country's top diplomat in the United States has favoured establishment of benchmarks to the American security assistance to Islamabad so as to check the use of money against New Delhi.

    "We certainly share the objective of the United States that we should help to stabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan and move them in the direction of both stability and moderation," India's Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar said.

    There is a shared objective that India has with the United States, Shankar said at a panel discussion organised by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

    "As to how best we can pursue the achievement of this objective, well, we support the flow of assistance to Pakistan, particularly economic assistance, which we think is essential at this stage given the very precarious state of Pakistan's economy," Shankar said in response to a question.

    The ambassador said the security assistance to Pakistan should be focused specifically on building counterinsurgency capabilities rather than conventional defense equipment.

    "The pursuit of the objectives that we share would certainly be easier if there are benchmarks to ensure that the assistance is linked to deliverables on the ground and that there is both transparency and accountability in the process," Shankar said.

    During their meetings with US officials and law makers, a delegation of Indian parliamentarians last week had also argued the same and asked Washington to ensure that its security assistance to Pakistan is not used to build up its military against India, as has been the case in the past.

    Shankar said India does compare its relationship with the US's relationship with any other country. "We would hope that the US would give priority to India on its own merits," she said.

    Referring to the upcoming trip of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India next month, Shankar hoped that it will provide the basis for both countries announcing a road map to take the India-US relationship to the next level.

    Asked about Reliance's relationship with Iran and if this could have any impact on India-US relationship, Shankar commented that should not be the case.

    "That (Reliance) is a private company, so I can't say what the private company will do. It is not a government company. But we have a relationship with Iran, and what interests me is that US companies also, through some of their subsidiaries, have relationships with Iran in the energy sector. So I think singling out a particular country is not very good," Shankar argued.

    "We also see that Pakistan and Iran have signed an agreement on their gas pipeline. That doesn't figure as a condition for aid to Pakistan. So there are double standards operating here," said the Indian Ambassador.


    http://www.hindustantimes.com/Story...India+wants+benchmarks+for+US+aid+to+Pakistan
     

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