U.S. seeks $2 billion in military aid for Pakistan

WASHINGTON Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:43pm EDT

1 of 2. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speak during the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Plenary Session at the State Department in Washington October 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States announced $2 billion in military aid for Pakistan on Friday as the two countries sought to dispel doubts about Islamabad's commitment to uprooting Islamist insurgents from safe havens on its soil.

"The United States has no stronger partner when it comes to counterterrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both than Pakistan," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

The five-year military aid package, which must be approved by Congress, would complement $7.5 billion in civilian assistance already cleared by U.S. lawmakers.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi rejected naysayers who argue that Islamabad's heart is not in the fight against the insurgents.

"Prophets of doom are back in business, painting doomsday scenarios about our alliance," he said. "They are dead wrong."

Announcement of the military assistance, for the years 2012 to 2016, came at the formal opening of the third round of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, a series of talks to expand relations beyond the fight against Islamist insurgents.

Clinton said 13 working groups focusing on issues from water to energy had agreed on plans to immunize 90 percent of Pakistani schoolchildren, improve electricity supplies and help farming families get back on their feet after devastating floods in August.

But looming over the talks is the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan and the fight against al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that have strained relations between Islamabad and Washington.

The Obama administration has pointedly pressed Pakistan for more aggressive action against safe havens in North Waziristan, saying in a recent report to Congress that Pakistani forces had avoided direct contact with al Qaeda and related militants, in part for political reasons.

CARROTS, STICKS AND APOLOGIES

Stepped up attacks in the region by U.S. drone aircraft have aggravated public opinion in Pakistan and relations deteriorated after a cross-border helicopter incursion killed two Pakistani border guards.

The incident prompted Pakistan to close a border crossing near the Khyber Pass to NATO supply convoys for 10 days until apologies were made by U.S. and NATO officials.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates apologized again for the incident when he met Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani earlier this week.

But U.S. officials continue to press Pakistan for more action and express growing concerns about the possibility of an attack on U.S. soil plotted by Pakistan-based groups, similar to the failed bombing in New York's Times Square this year.

Clinton told officials at the plenary session of the strategic dialogue on Friday that the two sides had "productive discussions" this week about "our work together to combat terrorism and eliminate violent extremism and the organizations that promote it that are operating in Pakistan."

"These groups threaten the security first and foremost of the people of Pakistan, of neighbors, of the United States and indeed of the world," Clinton said.

Pakistani officials raised their own concerns, saying increasing violence in disputed Kashmir threatened the stability of the region.

Qureshi urged U.S. President Barack Obama to press India for a solution in Kashmir, a Muslim majority region claimed by Pakistan and India that has been rocked by violent clashes following protests against Indian rule.

"President Obama has always understood the importance of a Kashmir solution. His coming visit to the region is the time to begin to redeem the pledge," Qureshi said.

Obama is due to visit India in early November.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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Comments (16)
jongbloet wrote:
Sounds like a really good deal for Pakistan,of course they really love us over there don’t they? This would in no way be a shakedown and I’m absolutely certain that none of this money would wind up in the hands of our enemies.It is really fortunate that we have these surplus billions to apply to this and other worthwhile causes like propping up that strutting moron in Afghanistan.I can’t help but think that if the draft were reinstated we as a nation might more thoroughly examine our foreign policy and not be so willing to have the best of us bear the brunt.

Oct 22, 2010 9:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SUCHAK_84 wrote:
Yes, give pakistan more dollars so that they dont end up in the hands of chinese and in turn chinese use pakistan terrorism to trouble India. I guess, as an Indian, I trust pakistan more in control of U.S than china before we succeed ourselves to dictate it. I would take this as a good Diwali gift for India when Obama visits Delhi and assures “Islamabad is in our control”…

Oct 22, 2010 9:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
wakeup123 wrote:
WAKE UP America….its an absolute for Clinton and OBAMA to say the United States has no stronger partner when it comes to counter terrorism….THAT country is the source of all the terrorists…there is so much proof BUT yet we give this country BILLIONS and BILLIONS while average Americans are suffering….we have already spent close to $20 Billion from the BUSH aid and now the OBAMA aid…..!

10 Years of fighting an small tiny Taliban and the worlds super power PLUS NATO cannot defeat them….WHY? Its simply….as long as they have shelter and Protection in Pakistan….how are you ever going to WIN…i mean its like trying to STOP apples from growing on a tree….if you just cut the apples, they will just grow back if you want to STOP the apples from growing you need to CUT the ROOTS….in this case the ROOTS are in PAKISTAN…WAKE UP PEOPLE all over America….the FOOLISHNESS of President is so amazing…..STOP spending money on Pakistan and START helping people back home.

SHAME ON YOU OBAMA AND CLINTON….American troops are dying and giving there Blood and we are rewarding the very people that support these terrorists by giving them BILLIONS and BILLIONS in aid…..FOR WHAT?

PLEASE MR.PRESIDENT WAKE UP….or STEP DOWN….if you can’t wake up to what really needs to be done…..the Pakistani’s lie lie lie and cry poverty and we HELP them again and again YET we never WAKE up…..how many American families could be saved from losing there homes with $7.5 Billion in AID you gave Pakistan now your giving them another $2 Billion…..SHAME ON YOU SIR.

Oct 22, 2010 9:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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