Washington: Standing its ground on the controversial clauses in the USD 7.5 billion US aid bill to Islamabad in the face of strong objections raised by Pakistan military, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday said it was based on the stated policy of that country.
Coming out with an extraordinary statement, the Senate Committee, whose chairman John Kerry is the co-author of the bill, said the legislation was based on the stated policy of the Pakistan government, its military and opposition parties.
"The conditions ask nothing beyond what Pakistan`s own leaders have already promised," the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in an unusual statement `Separating Myth from Fact on Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009`.
The statement is apparently an effort by the Congressional leaders to clarify the facts in the bill and clear the confusion as being created by the Pakistani Army and opposition parties over the past few days.
Kerry-Lugar bill, as passed by the US Congress last week, authorises military aid and the conditions require the President of the US to certify to the Congress that Pakistan "is continuing to cooperate with the United States" on nuclear non-proliferation.
The bill also requires top ensure that Pakistan "is making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups", including al Qaeda, the Taliban and their affiliates, and Pakistani military is not "subverting the political or judicial processes" of the nation.
"Each of these conditions is the stated policy of the Pakistani government, the major Pakistani opposition parties, and the Pakistani military," said the statement.
"Pakistan and the United States share common goals to bolster security and democracy in the region and have been working together as allies towards these goals. The language in the bill reflects this understanding and commitment by the people of Pakistan in furthering regional stability and democracy," it said.
Responding to the allegation that the bill expands the Predator programme of drone attacks on targets within Pakistan, the Committee said the fact is that there is absolutely nothing in the bill related to drones.
"This bill is about delivering economic development, education, health care, and other services to the people of Pakistan. There is nothing in this bill on the drone programme," it said.
The Committee asserted that there are no conditions on Pakistan attached to the USD 7.5 billion of American aid. "These funds are unconditioned — they are a pledge of US friendship to the Pakistani people. There are strict measures of financial accountability on these funds that Congress is imposing on the US executive branch—not the Pakistani government, to make sure the money is being spent properly and for the purposes intended.”
"Such accountability measures have been welcomed by Pakistani commentators to ensure that funds meant for schools, roads and clinics actually reach the Pakistani people and are not wasted," it said. Asserting that there is nothing in the bill threatens Pakistani sovereignty, the Committee said the bill is an extended hand of friendship, from the people of America to the people of Pakistan.
"It will fund schools, roads, energy infrastructure, and medical clinics. Even when Americans are going through a deep recession and tough economic times, the US is pledging USD 7.5 billion as a long-term commitment to Pakistan. Those seeking to undermine this partnership, to advance their own narrow partisan or institutional agendas, are doing a serious disservice to the people of the US and of Pakistan," it said.
The Committee alleged that myth is being created inside Pakistan that the bill places onerous conditions on US military aid to Islamabad that interfere in Pakistan`s internal affairs and imply that Pakistan supports terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
The fact is the conditions on military aid reinforce the stated policy of the Government of Pakistan, major Pakistani opposition parties, and the Pakistani military and are the basis of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Pakistan, it said.
"This bill does not discuss the levels of US military aid to Pakistan, which will be determined year by year depending on events on the ground," it said.
Charging that a disinformation being spread that the bill requires US oversight on promotions and other internal operations of the Pakistani military, the Committee asserted that there is absolutely no such requirement or desire. "This disinformation stems from an item to be included in one of the monitoring reports: it requires the Secretary of
State to describe the extent to which civilian authorities exercise control over the Pakistani military," it said.
"It does not require such control, nor does it place any restriction whatsoever on Pakistan. This benchmark, like all benchmarks in the monitoring reports, is informational. It presents a data-point on which US policy-makers can base decisions," the statement said.
Responding to the charges that the bill funds activities within Pakistan by private US security firms, such as Dyncorp and Blackwater/Xe, it said the bill does not include any language on private US security firms.
"The issue of how private security firms operate in Pakistan has nothing to do with this bill. The laws governing such firms – which are employed by many US embassies and consulates throughout the world – are not affected by this bill in any way," the committee said.
There is a myth that the bill aims for an expanded US military footprint in Pakistan, however, the fact is that the bill does not provide a single dollar for US military operations. "All of the money authorised in this bill is for non-military, civilian purposes," it said.
The Committee charged that myth is being created inside Pakistan that the US is expanding its physical footprint in Pakistan, using the bill as a justification for why the US embassy in Islamabad needs more space and security.