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Pakistani PM Says U.S. Should Put No Conditions On Aid

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Pakistan needs uncondition help.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- The United States should not put conditions on an expected substantial increase in U.S. aid to its ally Pakistan, Pakistan's prime minister told visiting U.S. Senator John Kerry on April 13.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is crucial to U.S. efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan and to peace in south Asia.

It is also struggling to stem surging Islamist violence and put back on track an economy being kept afloat with the help of a $7.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan.

Pakistan is due to make its case for help to its allies and aid donors on April 17 at meetings in Tokyo, where it hopes to win $4 billion-6 billion in aid over the next two years to fill a financing gap.

The United States is expected to make a pledge of substantial help, although U.S. President Barack Obama has said the release of additional aid to Pakistan would depend on how it tackled terrorism.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that Pakistan needed unconditional help.

"The prime minister told Mr. Kerry not to attach conditions to the assistance," Gilani's office quoted him as saying.

Kerry, who arrived in Islamabad earlier in the day and was due to brief reporters later, said additional U.S. aid was aimed at spurring social development.

Kerry is pushing a bill, along with a ranking Republican on his committee, Richard Lugar, for a tripling of non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for five years.

Differences between Pakistan and the United States emerged last week during a visit by U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pakistan objects to missile strikes by pilotless U.S. drones on militants in Pakistan, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive in fighting terrorism.

Pakistan has also been angered by U.S. accusations that elements in its military's Inter-Services Intelligence agency had contact with, or even provided support to, militants.

Pakistan for years used Islamists to further objectives in Afghanistan and Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim, but it has denied accusations it has maintained support.

Gilani said relations between Pakistan and the United States should be based on mutual respect and trust.

Pakistan's “Dawn” newspaper said recently that conditions would be included in the U.S. aid bill requiring Pakistan to stop support to any person or group aiming to hurt India.

Pakistan has for years supported separatist Muslim militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. Pakistan says the militants are waging a legitimate campaign for self-determination.

India has also accused Pakistan of backing militants who have attacked Indian cities, including Mumbai in November.

Pakistan denies any involvement by state agencies in such attacks.

Another condition to be included in the U.S. aid bill, “Dawn” reported, was that Pakistan ensures access to individuals suspected of supporting nuclear proliferation.

Pakistan has turned down requests by foreign investigators to question its disgraced nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who admitted in 2004 to passing nuclear secrets to other countries.

Gilani said on the weekend Pakistan would not accept aid on conditions that went against its national interests.