Pak Army's top brass not amused with 'stern conditions' in Kerry Lugar Bill

     The controversial Kerry-Lugar Bill, which offers Pakistan 1.5 billion dollars yearly over the next five years, is likely to come up for discussion during the meeting of Corps Commanders at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi today. Highly placed sources said the US aid Bill is unlikely to garner support during the meeting of Pakistan Army's top brass, which may ultimately sour the relationship between the armed forces and the government, which has been describing the assistance as its 'big success'. Senior military officials said that they are concerned about certain parts of the bill and consider them as interference in the country's internal affairs. "Obviously the Kerry-Lugar Bill is related to security and would be examined at the corps commanders' conference," The Dawn quoted a senior official, as saying on conditions of anonymity. The Bill has been receiving flak for the 'stern' terms and conditions attached with it, but what has sent the alarm bells ringing for the Pakistan Army is a clause calling for an assessment of how effectively the government controls the military, including oversight and approval of defence budgets, chain of command, promotions of senior commanders and civilian involvement in strategic planning. Observers believe that the Army's apprehension has fanned people's discontent over the assistance, despite the fact that the aid focuses on Pakistan's development and sectors like health and education. Explaining the reason behind the US congress' decision to attach such determining conditions with the aid, US Embassy's Counsellor for Political Affairs, Bryan Hunt, said the Congress felt that the US should be dealing with civilian governments. "Pakistan also agrees that we should be dealing with civilians, and not the military," Hunt said. Describing the debate on the Kerry-Lugar Bill as 'unfortunate and short-sighted', Hunt said Washington wants to promote democracy in Pakistan, but the goal was being hampered by the wide-scale protest the aid bill has received.

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