Washington, DC – The House today passed legislation by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) to triple U.S. assistance to Pakistan. The legislation was based on a compromise between bills passed earlier by the Senate and House.

”We need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen its democratic government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region,” said Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Terrorists currently sheltered in Pakistan’s lawless hinterlands are plotting to attack the United States. This legislation helps give Pakistan the tools to defeat al Qaeda.”

The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (S. 1707) has the strong support of the Departments of State and Defense. It triples U.S. democratic, economic, and social development assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year from fiscal years 2010 to 2014, with a particular focus on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic development, and improving Pakistan's public education system.

The legislation also authorizes military assistance to help Pakistan disrupt and defeat al Qaeda and relevant insurgent elements, and requires that such assistance be focused principally on helping Pakistan with its critical counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts. It further establishes accountability measures for military assistance, including a requirement that the Government of Pakistan has demonstrated a sustained effort to combating terrorist groups and has made significant efforts towards that end, as committed to by the Government of Pakistan.

“Pakistan faces a difficult political military and economic environment,” Berman noted. “Working in partnership with Pakistan’s leaders to address some of their most pressing concerns is critical to restoring bilateral trust that is essential to advancing key national security interests of both countries.”

The bill text combines legislation first introduced in the House (HR 1886), and then the Senate (S. 962). “I want to congratulate Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, the sponsors of this bill, for their hard work and determination in passing it, and thank them for the open and cooperative spirit that they and their staffs showed in crafting this bicameral, bipartisan compromise,” Berman said.

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Associated Press