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US House approves Pakistan aid bill

world Updated: Jun 12, 2009 07:19 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill to provide Pakistan $1.5 billion annually in aid till 2013, a media report said on Friday.

The House on Thursday voted 238-183 to triple the US annual aid to Pakistan. The money would be spent on anti-terrorism activities, Geo TV said.

"This legislation helps to lay the foundation for a stronger, more stable Pakistan," said Howard Berman, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

President Barack Obama has strongly endorsed boosting assistance to Pakistan.

The US and Pakistan have made fighting the Al Qaeda and Taliban militants a top priority.

The Republican Party has supported the bill, however, some lawmakers argued that the conditions for Pakistan to keep receiving the aid were "too onerous".

The Republicans have found an "unlikely" common cause with Senate Democrats such as John Kerry, who believes that strict aid conditions risk alienating the Pakistani public already suspicious of US goals, the report said.

"Our Democratic colleagues decided to load this bill up with ill-conceived provisions to micro-manage US security assistance to Pakistan," said Republican Dan Burton of the House committee handling South Asia.

"This is not just a debate between (US lawmakers), this is about war and peace and the survivability of Pakistan as an independent nation. It's about winning or losing the war in Afghanistan," he said.

"We are simply asking Pakistan to follow through with the commitments it has already made," Berman said. "And in the process, we lay down an important marker that Congress will no longer provide a blank check."