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US aid package to Pakistan met with violence

The Pakistani government has welcomed the $7.5 billion aid package from the White House, but violent protests have broken out on the streets following the news.

The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 or simply the Kerry-Lugar bill has also been met with anger by the country’s opposition and top army commanders. They call it humiliating, arrogant, and say it compromises the country’s sovereignty.

Defense analyst Tariq Pirzada points out that “The issue is that there is a specific provision in the Kerry-Lugar bill that clearly says that if the US decides to have access to any particular person allegedly involved in nuclear proliferation, the Pakistani authorities would either provide access to that person or would make this person available for questions to the US authorities.”

The debate in Pakistan has underscored the uneasy relationship between the elected government and the powerful military.

The army was irked by the bill's calls on Pakistan to fight Islamic extremists.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi went to the US to convey Pakistani concerns that the aid bill would meddle in his country’s affairs.

Congress issued an explanatory statement saying that the US does not want to micromanage Pakistani affairs, including the role of its military.

It also diluted other controversial conditions of the initial bill – but the changes are having little impact on how the aid is being seen in Pakistan. Some say that even if the money does come, it'll not go to the right people.

“It’s not giving Pakistan any substantial aid. 80% of this is going back to the administrative costs,” resents Maria Sultan Director General of South Asia Strategic Institute. “The Kerry-Lugar bill can only become positive if this money goes to the institutions of Pakistan, not to the NGOs, not to the private sector, but through central government. And if not through central government, then through the provincial governments so that something goes back to people and the State of Pakistan becomes stronger.”

No end to violence in sight

Meanwhile, at least 11 people have been killed and more than a dozen injured after a car bomb exploded outside a police station in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast seriously damaged the municipal building where militants are held for questioning.

Earlier, Pakistani officials held funerals for eleven elite force and police officers who were killed when gunmen attacked their training compounds.

The wave of violence comes just as the country's army and opposition falls out with the government over the multi-billion American aid bill to Pakistan.

Pakistan has suffered heavy losses during the US-led war on terror – both in terms of people killed and infrastructure destroyed.

The country's economy is estimated to have lost at least $35 billion since the campaign started in neighboring Afghanistan eight years ago.

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