Bush backed $15 billion Pakistan aid bill: Gilani

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has said that President Bush has strongly supported $15 billion of non-military development assistance to Pakistan, as the U S Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the Biden-Lugar bill, committing foreign assistance of this huge amount during next ten years.
In an historical event during Gilani’s visit to USA, the US Foreign Relations Committee approved the Biden-Lugar bill to provide assistance of $15 billion to Pakistan over the next one decade.
Addressing the think-tank event jointly organised by the council on Foreign Relations and the Middle East Institute in Washington on last day, the Prime Minister said that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), and all other agencies are fully under the control of the civilian government and the US should also provide civilian nuclear technology to Pakistan for meeting the demands of energy in the country.
The PM said that all of Pakistan was heartened by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimous passage of the Biden-Lugar bipartisan $15 billion plan for ten years non-military commitment by the US to the people of Pakistan. This legislation also has the support of President Bush, who is eager for democracy to succeed in Pakistan.
The $2 billion FATA plan, to which the US has contributed $750 million over a five-year period, would help accelerate social sector development in the tribal areas, contributing to the efforts to rescue the tribal people from the clutches of ignorance, extremism and foreign terrorist.
He said that this extraordinary recognition of the need to broaden and strengthen the bilateral relationship beyond merely military relations to a genuine economic and social partnership to building a prosperous, just and democratic Pakistan, has riveted the attention of the people of Pakistan.
The Biden-Lugar Plan, the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones program, and the FATA social development plan, taken together, are a clear and bold signal to the people of Pakistan that not only is Pakistan back in business, but the US is standing with it in a long-term mature partnership.
He said that there are abundant business and investment opportunities in Pakistan. “We have established special economic with special incentives for foreign companies to invest. In the last PPP government, Pakistan was cited by the World Bank (WB) as one of the top ten emerging markets in the world. Foreign investment in Pakistan quadrupled, but we want to recreate the economic incentives for foreign investment and trade that will re-establish our nation as a leader in the emerging global economy.”
He said that one of the great tragedies of the modern era is that after achieving the liberation of Afghanistan, the world failed to reconstruct a post-war Afghanistan built on democratic principles of coalition, consensuses and compromise. “We failed to rebuild civil society and promote democratic institutions. The US thought short-term, but not long term, as far as reconstruction of a post-war Afghanistan is concerned.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s envoy to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said: “The government and the people of Pakistan are grateful to the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their unanimous, bipartisan and broad vote in support of Pakistani democracy”.
He said: “Today’s action by the Committee heralds a new day in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan, a relationship that will be founded on mutual interest and mutual values, an economic partnership that transcends political and military relations and directly impacts the life of the people of Pakistan.
“We are especially grateful to the leadership and vision of Senators Biden, Lugar, Kerry and Hagel. The $15 billion commitment to the long-term development of a prosperous and stable Pakistan is a dramatic expression of the confidence and support of the United States Congress in the future of democracy in Pakistan.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2008