WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has asked the US Congress to provide more than $1 billion in civilian and military aid to Pakistan, including a six-fold increase in foreign military financing.
The budget proposal describes Pakistan as a “strategically important nation” and says that the proposed US assistance will strengthen its military in the fight against extremism, will increase safety of nuclear installations and will accelerate economic development.
It also says that continued US engagement with Pakistan will help bring stability to Afghanistan and will promote better relations between Islamabad and New Delhi.
The budgetary proposals, released on Monday afternoon after US President Barack Obama sent his 2016 budget to Congress, shows a more than six-fold increase in foreign military financing (FMF) to Pakistan from $42.2 million in 2014-15 to $265m in 2015-16.
Budget proposals envisage six-fold increase in foreign military financing for country
The FMF programme provides grants and loans to help countries purchase weapons and defence equipment produced in the United States as well as in acquiring defence services and military training.
The Obama administration also proposed $334.9m for economic support fund and $143.1m for counter-terrorism and non-proliferation efforts.
The US State Department noted that Pakistan was 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.
It argued that the proposed increase in foreign military funding to Pakistan was essential to country’s efforts to increase stability in its western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders.
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom told a briefing that while the budget proposals maintained “a robust investment in our Pakistan assistance”, overall there was a small reduction of about 10 per cent over the last year.
This reduction was “based on what we think the needs are and what we assess the capabilities are”, she said.
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2015