Tanveer Qaisar Shahid
Friday, January 09, 2009, (Islamabad)
President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday conferred one of Pakistan’s highest civilian honours on US Vice President-elect Joseph Biden in recognition of his “consistent support for democracy and socio-economic development” in the country.
The ceremony for conferring the Hilal-i-Pakistan award, which was held at the presidency here, was attended by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US Ambassador Anne W Patterson.
The citation for the award said Biden was being recognised for his “consistent support for democracy and socio-economic development in Pakistan and for his outstanding contribution to the strengthening of US-Pakistan relations”.
Biden, as a Senator, co-sponsored the Biden-Kerry-Lugar legislation for expanding socio-economic aid to Pakistan –USD 15 billion over next five fiscal years besides advocating an additional USD 7.5 billion over the subsequent five years.
The bill calls for tripling non-military aid to Pakistan to 1.5 billion dollars annually during 2009-13 while making military aid conditional on certification that Pakistani security forces were working to prevent al-Qaida and its allies from operating in Pakistan or launching attacks into Afghanistan from its territory.
Earlier on January 5, Zardari had conferred top civilian honour ‘Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam’ on US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher for his role in promoting “stable, broad-based and long-term” bilateral ties.
Imran Khan returns Hilal-e-Pakistan