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The Pakistani government is defending the $7.5 billion U.S. aid
package, saying Washington has addressed Islamabad's concerns over some
of the controversial clauses. Late Thursday, U.S. President Barack
Obama signed the bill into law.
The U.S. Congress earlier this
month unanimously approved the $7.5 billion aid package to help
Pakistan improve health, education and security in the wake of rising
militancy in the country.
But the legislation has come under strong criticism from opposition parties and the country's powerful military.
The opponents say some of the clauses undermine Pakistan's sovereignty.
week in a high-level meeting of its leadership, the Pakistani military
objected to clauses that implied they supported militant groups.
relentless criticism forced the government to send Foreign Minister
Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Washington this week to convey the concerns to
the sponsors of the multi-billion-dollar aid package.
Shortly after returning to Islamabad, Qureshi informed the Parliament Friday about his discussions with the U.S. lawmakers.
minced no words," he said. "I highlighted each and every concern that
was raised. Mr. Speaker, when I said what I had to say as a custodian
of this Parliament as a person representing the sentiment of the people
of Pakistan, and he replied to me, 'Foreign Minister, we hear you loud
and clear.' Loud and clear was what Senator [John] Kerry and the other
senators told me."
U.S. lawmakers said the language of the aid
package could not be changed. But U.S. Senator John Kerry and
Representative Howard Berman on Wednesday gave Qureshi a document
stating that the package does not impose any conditions on Pakistan or
infringe on its sovereignty.
The United States considers
Pakistan a vital ally in the global fight against terrorism. U.S.
officials maintain the aid package is meant to strengthen the bilateral
relations and help Pakistan fight its growing insurgency led by Taliban
The militants are using their bases in Pakistan's
remote tribal regions bordering Afghanistan for launching attacks
against government and security targets across the country.
The latest attack occurred Friday as Parliament was in session for the aid package debate.
in the northwestern city of Peshawar say a suicide car bomber rammed
into a building where suspects are held and interrogated. At least a
dozen people have been killed.
The violence also comes a day
after a series of high-profile suicide bombings and militant assaults
on opposite sides of the country killed at least 39 people.
Senator John Kerry, one of the authors of the aid package, is expected
to arrive in Pakistan early next week to reassure Pakistani leaders
that the United States does not intend to undermine their country's