US to increase Pakistan’s military assistance by $300 million
* New package will be valid for next five years
* Change of govt in US will not affect deal
LAHORE: The United States has agreed to increase Pakistan’s military assistance by over $300 million per year, a private TV channel reported on Sunday.
The channel quoted diplomatic sources as saying that while an exact figure had not been agreed upon, the US administration had informed Pakistan that it would be raise assistance to Pakistan by more than $300 million a year. The current arrangement regarding the annual military aid would expire on September 30, 2009 when the US fiscal year 2008-09 ends.
This was part of a $3.2 billion US aid package agreed upon in 2003 and was evenly divided between military and economic assistance.
Validity: The new military aid package will be valid for the next five years. Sources said although it was initiated by the outgoing Bush administration, a change of government on January 20 will not impact the package.
The Pentagon was working on a proposal to provide additional security assistance to Pakistan in support of its counter-terrorism efforts along the Afghan border, APP reported.
A senior US Department of Defence official had said on Thursday that the proposal for new assistance for the key South Asian anti-terrorism partner had come from the Central Command and was in its early stages. The proposed funding was in addition to existing programmes including the coalition support fund and foreign military financing.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates also pledged to forge a stronger partnership with Pakistan to support its economic development and fight against violent extremism along the Afghan border.
Gates, who will continue to serve as Defence Secretary under president-elect Barack Obama also defended US assistance for the country in an interview.
Washington, he said, will “clearly be looking for ways to have a stronger partnership with Pakistan” and “help it to be more effective” in its anti-terrorism efforts - against the Taliban and Al Qaeda — in areas along its western border with Afghanistan..
Gates said Pakistan had done a lot in the fight against terrorism over the years and acknowledged the country’s sacrifices.
“Most people don’t know that the Pakistanis have lost several thousand men in this struggle,” he said.
Defending the assistance the United States has provided to Pakistan since 2001, Gates pointed out that the country had captured and killed more Al Qaeda men than anybody else. “I think it was not a waste of money,” he added. daily times monitor/app