US promises to curb air strikes in Pakistan

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{image-US bombers1_18042008.jpg}London, Apr 18: The United States has promised to curb air strikes by drones against suspected militants in Pakistan, as part of a joint counter-terrorism strategy agreed with the new civilian government in Islamabad, the Guardian has reported.

Strategy would be supported by an aid package potentially worth more than seven billion dollars, which is due to go before the US Congress for approval in the next few months, the newspaper stated yesterday. The package would triple the amount of US non-military aid to Pakistan, and was aimed at ''redefining'' the bilateral relationship, it quoted US officials as saying.

The country would also be given a ''democracy dividend'' of up to 1 billion dollar, a reward for holding peaceful elections and forming a coalition government.

The aid package would mark a decisive break in the US policy on Pakistan, which for much of the past nine years focused on President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani military as primary partners in the ''war on terror''.

''US Democratic Senator Biden wants to show the relationship is much broader than a military one, and that we are willing to sustain it over time,'' a senator's senior aides said.

The new understanding on air strikes is being viewed as a critical benchmark for the new relationship between the two nations.


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