Kerry releases new Pakistan language to ease concerns

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Wednesday released an additional statement to be added to a $7.5 billion aid bill for Pakistan to answer foreign criticism of the package.

As he pledged Tuesday, Kerry said the additional statement will be added to the legislation already approved by both the House and Senate in September. Kerry made the announcement alongside House Foreign Relations Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

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The statement is an attempt to ease Pakistani political and military criticism that the U.S. funding comes with imposing conditions on the country’s independence. Qureshi was sent to Washington to communicate the message that the bill was being misinterpreted by Pakistani critics, prompting the renewed effort by Kerry and the Obama administration to clarify its intent. Pakistan's cooperation is considered critical to the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

“The purpose of this Joint Explanatory Statement is to facilitate accurate interpretation of the text and to ensure faithful implementation of its provisions in accordance with the intentions of the legislation,” Kerry said.

“It also makes absolutely clear, and I want to emphasize this point, that the legislation does not seek in any way to compromise Pakistan’s sovereignty, impinge on Pakistan’s national security interests, or micromanage any aspect of Pakistani military or civilian operations.”

The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 authorizes $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan over the next five years, with $1.5 billion to be appropriated each year.

The bill calls for U.S. officials to verify periodically that Pakistan is continuing to cooperate with the United States in dismantling nuclear weapons supplier networks and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. U.S. officials must also ensure Pakistan is cracking down on Taliban- and al Qaeda-linked militants and the support they may receive from the Pakistani military and its intelligence agency, preventing them from plotting attacks within or outside Pakistan. It also calls for verification that Pakistan’s security forces are not subverting the country’s political and judicial processes.

Congress passed the bill in September after some careful negotiations between the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Obama administration contributed to those talks.