Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has expressed hope
that a furor at home over a $7.5 billion U.S. aid package will ease
after U.S. lawmakers gave him written guarantees that it would not
violate Pakistan's sovereignty.
U.S. Senator John Kerry and Representative Howard Berman on Wednesday
gave Qureshi a document stating that the plan does not impose any
conditions on Pakistan or infringe on its sovereignty.
The lawmakers said a statement clarifying some points in the
legislation will be entered into the congressional record. The bill
itself will remain unchanged.
Qureshi called the explanatory statement "historic" and a step forward
in bilateral relations. He said he will convey to the Pakistani
government that the U.S. aid bill is a sign of friendship and not a
threat to the country's sovereignty.
Qureshi came to Washington this week after Pakistani officials and
military leaders alleged the civilian aid plan could interfere with the
military and the civilian government.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the aid package in the
coming weeks. It pledges $1.5 billion a year for five years for mainly
democratic, economic and social development programs.
It also calls on the U.S. secretary of state to report every six months
on whether Pakistan's weak civilian government maintains effective
control over the military.
In violence Wednesday, Pakistani intelligence officials said military
aircraft bombed militant hide-outs in the South Waziristan tribal
region bordering Afghanistan, killing at least nine insurgents.