Obama signs Pakistan Act of 2009 (with PS)

Obama signs Pakistan Aid Bill-2009 | Photo 02

The bill is not acceptable to us in the present form

-Leader of the Opposition in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.

The US President signed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act before leaving for New Orleans at the White House without any media coverage. The bill commits USD 7.5Bn assistance to Pakistan over a period of five years. This comes after the concerns that the bill might impinge on Pakistan’s sovereignty were eased in meeting between US lawmakers and Pakistani Foreign Minister.

There is no intent to, and nothing in this act in any way suggests that there should be, any US role in micromanaging internal Pakistani affairs, including the promotion of Pakistani military officers or the internal operations of the Pakistani military,’ said an explanatory note attached to the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.

The bill required US Secretary of State to do periodic review of the fund allocation and usage to certify that the funds were not being misused. The report would look into aspects of diverting funds for military usage which has been a cause of concern for various US and Non-US interest groups. The report also has to certify that Pakistan is no longer supporting militant groups. The aid money will not be directly handed over to Pakistan but will be spent on different development projects through the US embassy in Islamabad. Reports also said that, a special unit will be set up in the US Embassy to maintain accounts of the aid spent and strictly monitor it.

While the initial requirements seemed to be more strict the “explanatory note” seems to have eased out most of the boundaries. One of the issues which had raised flags within Pakistan in general and Pakistani army in particular was the clause which stated about the Secy. of State’s report, “This report should also include ‘a description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, the process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration.’

The concern of “civilian control” seems to be a natural fallout of the fact that Pakistan has been under military control for a major period since it’s independence. The aid under current legislature is targeted to aid “non-military” development projects. Pakistan has been under attack from local Taliban militants as well as other local groups which has left more than 160 people dead in the past few days.

While both the US and Pakistani authorities claimed that the bill with it’s “explanatory note” help ease out the issues that seemed to have caused concerns the actual fallouts still remain to be seen. Pakistan has its own share of worries with a strong role of army in civilian politics and administration and danger from militants groups.

The many requirements of this report are intended as a way for Congress to assess how effectively US funds are being spent, shortfalls in US resources that hinder the use of such funds, and steps the government of Pakistan has taken to advance our mutual interests in countering extremism and nuclear proliferation and strengthening democratic institutions,” the statement says.

There is no intent to, and nothing in this act in any way suggests that there should be, any US role in micromanaging internal Pakistani affairs, including the promotion of Pakistani military officers or the internal operations of the Pakistani military.

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