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'Kerry's visit underscores Pak Army's power'

October 23, 2009 21:40 IST

The influence Pakistan Army wields even in its diplomatic ties with the US was evident when Senator John F Kerry met the country's army chief to allay politicians' concerns about the new US aid package that has sparked public outrage.

A report in The Washington Post says the Massachusetts Democrat's stopover underscored the power the Pakistani military, which has ruled the nation for half its existence, continues to wield power in Pakistan's political stage.

The article quoted, "The message to the people has been that the army succeeded," said Tanvir Ahmad Khan, head of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. "They redefined the debate."

It is a particularly dangerous time for a deepening gulf. Pakistan, which has a history of military coups, is facing an emboldened Islamist rebellion and last week launched a ground offensive against the Taliban in a tribal border region the United States views as key to the war in Afghanistan. Unity between the military and the civilian government is crucial, the article said, quoting analysts.

The US signed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 - popularly known as Kerry-Lugar Bill, a day before the expiry of the mandatory 10 days time after the bill was sent to him by the Congress.

"This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the US, as evidenced by its bipartisan, bicameral, unanimous passage in Congress," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Gibbs said that the new law was based on a shared commitment to improving living conditions in Pakistan, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and combating extremism that threatens both Pakistan and the United States.