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Page last updated at 06:28 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 07:28 UK

US passes giant Pakistan aid bill

Jamaat-i-Islami supporters protest against the Kerry-Lugar Bill in Lahore on October 18, 2009
The restrictions are unlikely to go down well in Pakistan

The US Senate has passed a big defence spending bill which aims to ensure that military aid to Pakistan is used solely to fight America's "war on terror".

It sets tough new conditions which say that no resources given by the US to Pakistan may be used against India.

The bill also stipulates that US military hardware sent to Pakistan must be tracked to see where it ends up.

Recently, former President Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan used US aid to strengthen defences against India.

The BBC's Imtiaz Tyab in Washington says the bill is likely to fuel tensions over what Islamabad sees as US interference in its domestic affairs.

Approval necessary

The Senate voted 68 to 29 in favour of the measure which aims to ensure US resources provided to Pakistani army is used to fight America's so-called "war on terror" and not elsewhere.

Under the terms of the newly passed bill, the US secretary of state and the secretary of defence would have to approve any reimbursements to Pakistan out of a $1.6bn fund for logistical and military support of US-led efforts to battle Islamic insurgents.

The legislation says that resources provided by the US to the Pakistani army cannot be used to fuel tensions with its long-term rival and neighbour, India.

The joint authors of the measures, Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Bob Corker, said the bill was in part designed to ensure aid was used to fight the US "war on terrorism" and not elsewhere.

The senators did, however, praise Pakistan for its efforts in routing out extremists.

Pakistan's army is engaged in a big offensive against Taliban bases in South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

"That fight is important to our own national security, and we have to ensure that our support for it is not being squandered or diverted," Sen Menendez said.

"The Pakistanis should be commended for working to eliminate the terrorist safe havens within their own borders and for their role in the broader war on violent extremism," Sen Corker added.

"This provision simply ensures that the American peoples' tax dollars are being used for their intended purpose," he said.

The new restrictions are unlikely to go down well in Pakistan.

Recently, Pakistan's army said it had "serious concerns" about the strings attached to the US aid package.

The recently cleared Kerry-Lugar bill had also set several conditions for the aid to Pakistan.

The army said the restrictions amounted to meddling in Pakistan's affairs.



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