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US to provide conditional aid to Pakistan, says Clinton

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
January 14, 2009 09:50 IST
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United States President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of State designate Senator Hillary Clinton, appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of her confirmation process on Tuesday, said that the Obama administration will condition military aid to Pakistan, on its commitment to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism.

Clinton told the chairman of the Committee Senator John F Kerry that the Obama administration does intend to follow through on Congressional legislation authored last year by Senators Joe Biden (now the vice-president elect) and Richard Lugar to provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion in American assistance for the next five years, the bulk of which would be development and economic assistance.

"The President-elect does support the legislation and we want to try to begin to some extent to separate our military aid from our non-military aid," she said, and noted that "the tripling of the non-military aid is intended to provide resources that will support the Pakistani people but also give some tools to the democratically elected government to try to start producing results for the people of Pakistan."

But Clinton reiterated that with regard to the military aid, "We want to really look hard at seeing whether we can condition some of that on the commitment for the counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism mission."

Earlier, Clinton acknowledged the concerns expressed by some of the lawmakers over the possibility of nuclear terrorism and the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, if it fails to bring terrorism under control. 

Speaking on the government of President Asif Zardari, she said, "They have been saying the right things with respect to the threat posed by the extremists and terrorists, particularly along the border (with Afghanistan) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas region."

Clinton spoke of the importance of efforts to develop ties "between the United States and various (civilian) institutions in Pakistan, but this is a tough problem. This is a complicated problem and has many dimensions to it."

She also spoke of the problem between Pakistan's "relationship with India, the relationship with Afghanistan, the role that Iran and others are playing in that region."

She reiterated that the new administration aimed "to root out al Qaeda and other remnants of the extremist networks."

The Obama government would ensure that these extremists "don't find save havens in Pakistan or plan attacks against us or any other country," said Clinton.

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC