Washington: The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed $860 million in aid for Pakistan, including $265 million for military hardware, which it said would help the country fight terrorists, secure nuclear weapons and improve ties with India.
While there was no mention of Pakistan in President Barack Obama’s budgetary proposals, Secretary of State John Kerry in his proposals said the budget includes $859.8 million towards sustaining ties with Pakistan and making progress to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat violent extremist groups.”
“The requested funding will support the country’s counter-insurgency missions, and bolster stability, energy access, economic growth, and social reform,” Kerry said in a letter accompanying his proposals.
“Pakistan lies at the heart of the US counter-terrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and economic integration in South and Central Asia,” State Department said making its case for the aid to Pakistan under the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.
“OCO resources will support critical US activities such as ensuring the safety of Pakistani nuclear installations,working with Pakistan to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan, and promoting improved relations with India,” it said.
For Pakistan, the OCO request supports a robust diplomatic presence and critical assistance programmes to advance cooperation and reforms in energy, economic growth, and agriculture, education, health, and stabilisation of areas vulnerable to violent extremism, it said.
This includes supporting the government and its people, while maintaining diplomacy and outreach in the face of challenging political and security conditions, it said.
The State Department plans to sustain the presence necessary to “achieve our essential strategic priorities of combating terrorism and enhancing stability in Pakistan and the region following the transition in Afghanistan.”
Under the Economic Support Fund (ESF) of the OCO, the State Department has proposed $400 million to Pakistan.
The State Department said this will support the US’ strategic objectives in the region, including combating terrorism and violent extremism and increasing security, growth and stability within Pakistan and the broader region.
“The request will also demonstrate the US’ commitment to fostering longterm cooperation with the Government of Pakistan in order to address areas of mutual interest,” it said.
Under OCO’s International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement section, the State Department has proposed $40 million for Pakistan-funded programmes that will promote stability during the transition in Afghanistan.
Proposing $265 million under Foreign Military Funding (FMF)– which mainly means providing military hardware, the State Department said given the transition in Afghanistan and continued terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, it is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability on its western border and within the country.