US Senate passes bill to triple civilian aid to Pak

Senator John KerryUnlike the House version of the bill, which was voted against by the Republican members, the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which is called Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (S962), received bi-partisan support from Senators and is supported by the Obama Administration.

The Obama Administration had expressed its reservations over the House version of the bill -- the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 1886), which imposes strict conditions on Pakistan. HR 1886 was passed by the House on June 11.

Since there are differences in the two bills -- HR 1886 and S962 -- the House of Representatives and the Senate would now hold a conference to arrive at a consensus to merge the two documents into one, before it is sent to the US President for signing it into law.

"I look forward to working with our House colleagues to get this important bill to the White House for the President's signature," said Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after the passage of the bill.

"This legislation marks an important step toward sustained economic and political cooperation with Pakistan, while establishing mechanisms to help ensure that funds are spent efficiently," Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.

Lugar said the bill subjects US security assistance to a certification that Pakistani government is using the money for its intended purpose -- to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"The bill also calls for tangible progress in governance, including an independent judiciary, greater accountability by the central government, respect for human rights, and civilian control of the levers of power, including the military and the intelligence agencies," he said.

"Finally, it includes multiple reporting requirements, certifications, and audit mechanisms to ensure that the administration is implementing a sound strategy and using funds effectively," Lugar said.

A joint statement by Kerry and Lugar, said one of the key provisions of the bill on Pakistan is that it delinks military from non-military aid.

In the past, security assistance has dwarfed development assistance: the Pakistani military could bypass civilian authorities to focus policy on its institutional interests, it observed.

"Under Kerry-Lugar, economic assistance is no longer the poor cousin to military aid.

Rather than locking in a level of such aid which might not be in line with rapidly-changing Pakistani capabilities and commitment, the bill leaves the level of security aid to be determined on a year-by-year basis," the statement said.

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