Key US Senate panel clears Pak economic aid bill

WASHINGTON – The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that proposes tripling of economic assistance for Pakistan to $1.5 billion annually for next five years.

The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, known as Kerry-Lugar bill, will now go to the full chamber before the Senate and the House of Representative hold a conference to arrive at a reconciled version, mainly on some restrictions attached to the non-military assistance to Pakistan.

Pakistan’ Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani welcomed the development, saying that US senators support for Pakistan was encouraging for the Pakistani government and people in their efforts to overcome the challenge facing the country.

According to informed sources, a total of $3.2 billion in US aid for various counts that has already been appropriated and disbursed to Pakistan. This included $957 million for economic and military assistance, a supplemental of 707 million for counter-insurgency and $912 million in Coalition Support Funds.

Although some restrictions will apply, as was the case in previous US aid packages, sources said as a results of Pakistan government’s efforts, especially by the embassy here, none of them are nuclear or India related. This was despite the intense efforts of the two respective lobbies pushing for attaching conditions.

In addition to the US aid, the International Monetary Fund has efforts of sent $3.9 billion to in move to stabilise Pakistan’s economy and the World Bank’s contribution of 1.54 billion, out of which $500 million is yet to be transmitted.

The Friends of Pakistan is $5.3 billion in grants and soft loans to shore up Pakistan’s economy.

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