WASHINGTON: Pakistan remains critical to US counterterrorism efforts, nuclear nonproliferation, regional stability, the peace process in Afghanistan, and regional economic integration and development, argues the Obama administration while explaining why Washington needs to stay engaged with Islamabad.

“The United States therefore has a deep interest in a stable, democratic and prosperous Pakistan, as well as long-term constructive bilateral cooperation,” says an official US document on the need for continuing aid to Pakistan in the fiscal year 2017.

The document, posted recently on a US government website, explains why during his visit to India last week Secretary of State John Kerry rejected the suggestion, made at media briefings and public engagements, that Washington needed to abandon Pakistan as it was not a trustworthy ally.

In his first comment, however, Secretary Kerry advised Pakistan not to make distinctions between “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists”, though in a later statement he said that Pakistan itself had been a victim of terrorism and lost over 50,000 people to violent acts. He also urged other nations to help Pakistan combat terrorists.

The argument that the Obama administration makes in the document justifying its decision to continue security and economic assistance to Pakistan in 2017 further explains this point.

“Through security assistance, the United States is enhancing Pakistan’s capabilities to address its counterterrorism and counterinsurgency challenges in the Federally Administered Tri­bal Areas (Fata),” says the document.

The Obama administration warns that in 2017, “Pakistan will continue to face significant and broad challenges to its internal security, economy and social sectors, all of which threaten its long-term trajectory.”

The document says that due to these reasons the US will “continue its intensive engagement with Pakistan to advance our joint interest in a democratic Pakistan that is developing economically, countering militancy and contributing to peace and stability in the region”.

The US administration explains that its engagement with Pakistan is facilitated both through the US-Pak­istan Strategic Dialogue and through the assistance aligned with and supportive of these policy goals.

It notes that the US and Pakistan enjoy a positive security partnership and are working collaboratively to address security threats faced by both nations.

The document explains that non-security US assistance to Pakistan supports development, cooperation and reform in five key areas: energy, economic growth, stabilisation of areas most vulnerable to extremism, education and health.

The document also mentions Pakistan’s efforts at countering violent extremism within its territory which, it says have “continued to expand and achieve results”.

It notes that the operations have also displaced more than 700,000 people.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2016

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