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US unlikely to renew aid to Pak under Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The Obama Administration is unlikely to renew financial assistance to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill when its five-year term expires in October this year, but the robust civilian aid is expected to continue, albeit in reduced quantity.

The civilian aid worth USD 4.1 billion has been actually provided to Pakistan so far of the USD 7.5 billion (USD 1.5 billion per annum) for the five-year period 2009-2014, that was authorised by the Congress under the Bill - also known as the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act - that was signed into law by US President Barack Obama in October 2009, according to figures accessed by PTI.

While there is no official word on the future of the Bill from the US government as it comes to an end in October this year, all indications are that the piece of legislation which five years ago was billed as "landmark" and reflective of the long-term US commitment to Pakistan has served its purpose in strengthening of democratic institutions, education and civil society and does not need to be renewed, as initially planned.

The Bill has set the stage for a longer term cooperation between the two countries, it is being argued.

The change in plan is partly due to the repeated insistence of the Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his country wants "trade and not aid", partly by the implementation constraints there and also by America's own budgetary constraints and of late the need to find funds for new crisis areas like Ukraine and Syria.

This was indicated a few weeks ago when a powerful Congressional committee cut USD 10 million from the Bill for Ukraine, after Russia annexed Crimea through military intervention.

The House of Representatives and the Senate, however, did not approve diversion of this fund from Pakistan.

Authoritative figures available with PTI indicate that the civilian aid appropriated to Pakistan during these five years period (2009-2014) touched the USD 1.5 billion mark only once.

In the fiscal year 2010, beginning October 2009, the US appropriated USD 1.515 billion worth of civilian assistance to Pakistan, that came down to USD 1.086 billion in 2011; which dropped to USD 944.5 million in 2012; USD 791 million in 2013 and further to USD 648 million in the current fiscal of 2014.

However, the actual amount spent was much less.

In the five years (2009-2014) of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, the actual US civilian assistance to Pakistan was USD 4.1 billion. This includes roughly USD 1 billion of humanitarian assistance following the floods of 2010.

The remaining portions of the Bill will be spent after 2014.

The Obama Administration, however, is expected to continue its long-term commitment to Pakistan which would be reflected in the continuation of civilian aid, albeit much less than it is currently now.

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First Published: Wed, April 23 2014. 12:46 IST