US govt reduces aid requests for Pakistan

Updated July 04, 2013

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— File Photo
— File Photo

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has requested $1.16 billion for aid to Pakistan in the 2014 financial year — almost half of the $2.6bn it spent in 2012 and a quarter of the $4.5bn it spent in 2010, says a report released on Tuesday.

The military aid also goes down to $397 million from over $1.2bn in 2010.

The cuts, however, may not have a major impact on the Pakistani economy as the country received an estimated $12.8bn from July 2012 to May 2013.

Pakistani diplomats in Washington, when asked for comments, said it would be wrong to interpret the cuts as indicating deterioration in US-Pakistan ties.

They said the United States was aware of Pakistan’s critical role in ensuring peace and stability in South Asia and this reflected in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to visit Islamabad on July 28.

The diplomats pointed out that the US planned to withdraw most of its combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, which further enhanced Pakistan’s role in ensuring a peaceful transition in Afghanistan. They noted that Washington had also helped Islamabad in dealing with a major energy crisis and the 2010 floods.

They said the Congressional Research Service, which had reported the aid cuts, also noted that like previous US administrations, the Obama administration continued to support a “stable, democratic, and prosperous” Pakistan. The administration believes that Pakistan plays a “critical role” in South Asia and also in US counter-terrorism efforts, the report said.

For fiscal year 2014, beginning October 1 this year, the Obama administration is requesting a total of $1,162.57m, of which about two-thirds is for economic assistance and one-third is for security assistance.

“The total includes $281.2 million, considered to be Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) that is not part of the core request but is identified by the administration as extraordinary, temporary funding needs for frontline states,” the CRS said.

The civilian assistance will focus on five key areas — energy, stabilisation, social services (especially health and education), economic growth (including agriculture), and improving governance, including transparency and gender equality.

Security assistance will focus on building counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism capabilities, strengthening military-to-military cooperation and supporting the ability for Pakistan to provide security to its citizens, particularly along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The Obama administration is also seeking $765.7m (and $252.2m in Overseas Contingency Operations funds) within the Economic Support Fund (ESF) for energy assistance, economic growth and agriculture, education, health, and cross-cutting issues such as supporting gender equality, human rights, better governance, and political participation.

In the Foreign Military Financing, $300m for Pakistan would enhance the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism capabilities of its security forces, and would encourage US-Pakistan military-to-military engagement, the report said.

The Obama administration has also requested $17.87m under non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, demining and related programmes to provide training to build Pakistan’s capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist threats and improve border security.