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.