Pak Army sees 'intrusive' Kerry Lugar Bill terms 'threat to country's sovereignty'

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Islamabad, Oct.8 (ANI): The Pakistan Army has objected to the stern terms and conditions attached with the Kerry Lugar Bill, opening a rift with the government, which has been describing the assistance as its 'big success'.

During a regular meeting of Corps Commanders at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, military's top brass raised questions over the 'stringed' aid, which would provide Pakistan with 1.5 billion dollars a year over the next five years for democratic, economic and social development programmes.

A statement issued by the Pakistani Army after the meeting stated that the military is concerned about the clauses of the aid bill which may have a serious impact on national security, The News reports.

"The forum expressed serious concern regarding clauses impacting on national security," the statement said.

"Pakistan is a sovereign state and has all the rights to analyse and respond to the threat in accordance with her own national interests," the statement quoted Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, as saying.

The press release stated, the military commanders' considered view was that "it is parliament that represents the will of the people of Pakistan, which would deliberate on the issue, enabling the government to develop a national response".

The Kerry Lugar Bill has been receiving flak from different quarters in Pakistan with critics saying that conditions attached with the assistance give Washington too much influence over domestic and foreign policy, and some even argue that the Bill should be revised or out rightly rejected.

Apart from the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) almost all the political parties in the country have criticized the Bill in its current form and blamed the Gilani government for the 'historical blunder'.

"The incompetence of the Zardari regime has brought humiliation for Pakistan," said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Ahsan Iqbal.

However, both the Pakistani and US officials have defended the Bill, saying that it is in both countries' interests and does not impose any conditions that do not already apply to military aid.

"The Bill acknowledges Pakistan as a critical friend and ally and also the profound sacrifices it has made in the War on Terror," said President Asif Ali Zardari's spokesman Farhatullah Babar. (ANI)

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