WASHINGTON: The United States is expected to release $337 million to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund in a next few days, a US official said on Friday.
“The April-June 2014 reimbursement of $337 million of Coalition Support Fund assistance has been approved by the Secretary of Defence, and we anticipate it being released by the end of the month,” a State Department spokesperson told Dawn.
“The Coalition Support Fund is a demonstration of our commitment to supporting Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate terrorist threats throughout Pakistan,” the official said. “We welcome the government of Pakistan’s commitment to combat all terrorists and ensure that militant groups are not able to re-establish safe havens in Pakistan,” the spokesperson added.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration notified the US Congress about its intention to release the fund to Pakistan. The mandatory 15-day notice period expired this weekend.
Officials at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, however, clarified that the Coalition Support Fund was not military aid. “It’s the reimbursement of what Pakistan spends in combating terrorists along the Afghan border,” said one official. Diplomatic observers in Washington say that the ongoing military operation in Fata has helped increase US confidence in Pakistan’s plan for combating terrorists.
But a State Department official disagreed with the suggestion that this has had a negative impact on US civilian assistance to Pakistan. “The US continues to provide Pakistan with a robust civilian assistance package,” he said.
In the proposed US budget for 2016, Pakistan continues to be a top recipient of foreign assistance. It would receive $804 million in the next fiscal year, despite a 10 per cent cut from the fiscal 2014.
The 2016 budget request includes $600 million for Pakistan from the OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) funding.
“Even though we maintain a robust investment in our Pakistan assistance, that’s come down by a small amount — about 10 per cent — over last year based on what we think the needs are and what we think — what we assess the capabilities are,” explained Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2015