Two influential U.S. Senators
introduced legislation on Monday that would triple nonmilitary aid to Pakistan.
The measure has the support of President Barack Obama.
The Chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat,
and the top Republican on the committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, introduced
the bill on the Senate floor.
The measure would triple nonmilitary aid to
$1.5 billion annually for five years, and urges an additional five years of
funding after that. The money is to be used to build schools, roads and medical
Senator Kerry said the time had come for a change in U.S.
strategy toward Pakistan, with the aim of appealing to the hearts and minds of
the Pakistani people. Kerry said that for decades, the United States had sought
cooperation from Pakistani decision makers through military aid, while paying
little attention to the urgent needs of most Pakistanis.
"As a result, an
alarming percentage of the Pakistani population now sees America as a greater
threat than al-Qaida," said Senator Kerry. "Until we change that perception,
there is frankly very little chance of ending tolerance for terrorist
The legislation was announced two days before President Obama
hosts Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid
Karzai, to discuss strategies for ending violence along their two countries'
common border. The two governments are fighting renewed Taliban insurgencies in
Senator Kerry warned that Pakistan is at a crucial
"Pakistan is a nation which could either serve as a force for
stability and progress in a volatile region, or it could become the epicenter
for radicalism and violence on a cataclysmic scale," he said.
Lugar noted that the proposed legislation places conditions on U.S. military
aid, among other provisions.
"The bill subjects our security assistance
to a certification that the Pakistani government is using the money for its
intended purpose, namely to combat the Taliban and al-Qaida," said Senator
Lugar. "The bill also calls for tangible progress in governance - including an
independent judiciary, greater accountability by the central government, respect
for human rights and civilian control of the levers of power, including the
military and intelligence agency."
The House of Representatives is
considering its own version of the legislation.
Senator Kerry said that
ultimately it will be the Pakistanis, not the Americans, who will determine
their nation's future. But he said the United States can help empower the
Pakistanis who are fighting to steer the world's second-largest Muslim majority
country onto a path of moderation, stability and regional cooperation.