WASHINGTON, July 29: The White House has reminded Pakistan that it has an “international obligation” to fight terrorism, and besides protecting its own people it also has an obligation to protect its neighbours.
The White House fact sheet, issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President George W. Bush, reflects a marked changed from previous US statements on this issue which named Afghanistan as the neighbouring state threatened by terrorism emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Diplomatic observers in Washington say that by not naming the neighbouring states, the White House has indicated that it also expects Pakistan to help prevent terrorist attacks in India which has experienced a series of bomb blasts recently, killing dozens of people.
“The Pakistani government has an international obligation to deny any space to militants and terrorists,” says the White House. “We seek to work with the Pakistani government as it takes responsibility for protecting the Pakistani people and neighbours.”
The statement also seeks to remind Pakistanis that terrorists operating inside their territory are a threat to their own existence. “Pakistan is under threat, and we seek to work with Pakistan to address that threat,” says the White House.
“We will work together to pursue terrorists who try to kill innocent Pakistanis and weaken the government’s efforts to provide jobs, education, and healthcare to the people of Pakistan.”
The White House notes that before September 11, 2001, Pakistan’s military forces had not been deployed to the Tribal Areas in decades. Since then, Pakistani military, intelligence, and paramilitary forces operating in the border areas have apprehended multiple Al Qaeda operatives. “We recognise the sacrifice of the many Pakistani troops who have given their lives in the struggle against terror.”
The White House also assures its support to the government in Islamabad in its efforts to strengthen itself. “We support the Pakistani government as it moves forward with reforms that will deliver the benefits of democracy to the Pakistani people,” the statement says. “To demonstrate our broad-based commitment, President Bush has pledged substantial food aid to benefit the people of Pakistan.”
Over the past year, Pakistan has experienced a sharp 70 per cent increase in staple food prices. The United States will work to provide a major food security assistance package of over $115 million responding to short and long-term needs.
Short-term assistance: $42.5 million over the next 6-9 months. The US Department of Agriculture and US Agency for International Development will provide a package of short-term assistance of $42.5 million that will provide food aid through the World Food Programme and our USDA Food for Progress and McGovern-Dole programmes.
Long-term: Total assistance of an additional $73 million over the next two years. The US will also provide additional long-term assistance through US Agency for International Development agricultural development programmes and food aid through US Department of Agriculture programmes.
President Bush also has reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to improving governance and economic opportunity in Pakistan through the establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones. The United States and Pakistan will continue economic dialogue on August 11, including discussion of the status of ongoing bilateral investment treaty negotiations, with energy and trade dialogues planned for the fall.
“Through our partnership with Pakistan, the United States and the international community are targeting extremists and their allies who are destabilising to Pakistan and Pakistan’s neighbours,” the White House says.
It describes Pakistan as a strong partner in the fight against violent extremism – hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives have been captured and turned over to the United States.
The White House notes that Pakistan remains a key ally in the global war on terror, and the United States needs to provide economic and military assistance to Pakistan “to demonstrate our desire for a broad-based partnership”.
The White House says that since 2006, the US provided on average $1.59 billion annually for the government of Pakistan and its citizens. This amounts to $4.8 billion over the past three years – and over $11 billion total since 2001. This includes coalition support funds, security assistance, and humanitarian/economic aid.