Pakistan’s powerful army expressed “serious concern” over some of the provisions in the US economic aid bill saying it impacted “national security” even as the legislation’s architect said “no conditions” have been attached.
Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had a meeting with his top commanders at Army headquarters in Rawalpindi in the backdrop of criticism in Pakistan that the bill had some strings attached undermining the country’s sovereignty. The Bill seeks to provide 7.5 billion USD aid over five years.
“The forum expressed serious concern regarding clauses impacting on national security,” the Army said in a statement after the meeting of the Corps Commanders.
The Army also said it was providing the government,which supports the Kerry-Lugar bill,with “formal input” in what could set the stage for their possible face-off.
Though the Generals did not spell out their concerns,Dawn newspaper quoting military sources said the Army viewed as “highly intrusive” the condition that US Secretary of State is required to provide certification that armed forces are not subverting Pakistan’s political and judicial processes.
The assessment by the Secretary of State to be made every six months also includes to verify whether US aid is being diverted “directly or indirectly” to expand Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.
After meeting visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi,John F Kerry said in Washington,”there is no conditionality whatsoever in this legislation (Kerry-Lugar bill) with respect to civilian assistance and the economic assistance that is provided. No conditionality. It is unfortunate the bill has been characterised in some quarters in ways that are just not accurate.”