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No condition on Pakistan for US aid: Holbrooke

By Lalit K Jha
October 24, 2009 01:39 IST
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Amid concerns by certain quarters in Pakistan over the 'strings' attached to the United States aid, Washington on Friday asserted that no condition has been imposed on Pakistan for the $ 680 Defense Authorisation Bill and charged that an attempt is on to 'willfully distort' the facts.

US Special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke,  said the bill requires only reporting by the executive branch - the Obama administration -- on progress toward long-term security and stability in Pakistan.

The 2010 Defense Authorisation Bill was passed by the Senate on Thursday and the House of Representatives early this month. The bill provides for a military assistance of $ 2.3 billion to Pakistan in one year, in addition to the $ 1.5 billion non-military aid per annum for the next five years as approved by the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama early this month.

Addressing mediapersons at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, Holbrooke said, "There are no conditions on Pakistan. There are reporting requirements onus. And there's been a total and, I believe, willful distortion of this among some people in Pakistan."

"Well, then, let me tell you, there are no conditions in this bill. There are no conditions. I don't want to get into legalisms here, but there are requirements on us," he said in reply to a query.

"The Congress wants the secretary of defense, in the case of this bill (Defense Authorisation) and the Secretary of State, in the case of Kerry-Lugar-Berman, to report to them on certain issues before and during the process of releasing the funds," Holbrooke said.

Holbrooke even termed the bill as 'pro-Pakistan.' "So this is a pro-Pakistan bill. And I pray that your colleagues in Islamabad report it accurately so we don't have another misunderstanding," Holbrooke said when a Pakistani journalist asked whether the Defense Authorisation Bill imposes conditions on Pakistan, despite the fact that Pak army is running successful military operation against Taliban in Waziristan and other tribal regions of the country.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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