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Obama Signs Massive Aid Package to Pakistan


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U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law a $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan.

The White House says the law demonstrates broad support in the United States for Pakistan, noting the bipartisan, bicameral, unanimous passage in Congress.

The White House notes that President Obama has said the U.S. wants to engage Pakistan on the basis of a strategic partnership "grounded in support for Pakistan's democratic institutions and the Pakistani people."

It says the act formalizes that partnership, based on a shared commitment to improving the lives of Pakistanis through sustainable economic development, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and combating extremism.

Wednesday, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed hope that a furor at home over the aid package will ease after U.S. lawmakers gave him written guarantees that it will not violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

U.S. Senator John Kerry and Representative Howard Berman on Wednesday gave Qureshi a document stating that the plan does not impose any conditions on Pakistan or infringe on its sovereignty.

The lawmakers said a statement clarifying some points in the legislation will be entered into the congressional record. The bill itself will remain unchanged.

Qureshi called the explanatory statement "historic" and a step forward in bilateral relations. He said he will convey to the Pakistani government that the U.S. aid bill is a sign of friendship and not a threat to the country's sovereignty.

Qureshi recently visited Washington after Pakistani officials and military leaders alleged the civilian aid plan could interfere with the military and the civilian government.

The legislation also calls on the U.S. secretary of state to report every six months on whether Pakistan's weak civilian government maintains effective control over the military.