Thursday, October 1, 2009

Congress Votes to Triple Aid to Pakistan

"Legislation to triple aid to Pakistan and stem the tide of radicalism and anti-Americanism in that Asian nation cleared Congress on Wednesday and moved to President Obama for his signature. 

The bill, approved by a voice vote in the House, would provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion in aid a year over the next five years focused on democratic, economic and social development programs. 

"The United States has an enormous stake in the security and stability of Pakistan," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, a Democrat. "We need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan's democratic government and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region." 

The final bill was crafted by Berman on the House side and the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chairman John Kerry, a Democrat, and Dick Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican. It was endorsed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. 

The aid would seek to strengthen Pakistan's legislative and judicial systems; its public education system, emphasizing access for women and girls; its health care system; and its human rights practices with particular attention to women as well as ethnic and religious minorities. 

The legislation also authorizes "such sums as are necessary" for military assistance to Pakistan, while conditioning that aid or arms transfers on several conditions. Those include certification that Pakistan is cooperating in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that Pakistan is making a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups and that Pakistan security forces are not subverting the country's political or judicial processes."

For the rest of the story click below.

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