US proposes $698.3 million financial aid for Pakistan
WASHINGTON: Calling America’s commitment to Pakistan “a pillar of our strategy to win the war on terrorism”, the US administration has requested Congress for $698.3 million for the fiscal year 2006 – $300 million of which will be included in the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funds.
Addressing the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald Camp said another $300 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) would be towards the second of the five-year $3 billion presidential commitment.
“This reflects the critical importance of both aspects of the war on terror. As we facilitate the capture of Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants and strengthen our military ties through the FMF programme, we will help tackle conditions that terrorists seek to exploit by providing up to $200 million in ESF for macroeconomic stabilisation and growth, plus at least $100 million in ESF to support social sector programmes,” he added.
“We seek a Pakistan that is secure and at peace with all its neighbours, a voice for tolerance and moderation in the Islamic world, a country that lives up to its great economic potential and can serve as an inspiring model for the broader Middle East and South Asian region,” he said.
Among the many successes that Camp enlisted in favour of his argument was the unmasking of the Pakistani nuclear proliferation network as well as the arrest of hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives.
“A return to full democracy in Pakistan is central to long-term stability and a primary objective of our Pakistan policy. US democracy programmes and exchanges are assisting the development of accountable and responsive democratic institutions and practices, including effective legislatures and local councils that respond to citizens and that play a positive role in governance,” he said. The US-supported programmes would be crucial in “helping Pakistanis prepare themselves to participate in successful 2007 national elections that are free and fair”, he added.
“Pakistan recognises the critical need for, and is pursuing, education reform, including for madrassas. Pakistan’s need for improvements in education is profound. Beyond the very real problem created by the intolerance and extremism inculcated in some madrassas, the education system in general has been failing the youth of Pakistan,” he said.
Camp also delivered Assistant Secretary for South Asia Christina Rocca’s statement to the committee. It highlighted Washington’s efforts to expand security relations with India and build Pakistan as a moderate voice of Islam in coming years. The statement said Indian Foreign Minister K Natwar Singh’s February visit to Pakistan was the most significant development in the two years of rapprochement between the two South Asian nations.
It also stressed Washington’s growing relations with India in resolving regional issues such as the December 26 tsunami and Nepal’s growing internal instability. “We will have, during the next few years, a crucial opportunity to assist South Asia toward a future that is stable and free from terrorism, conflict and proliferation; prosperous and economically integrated; governed through accountable democratic institutions; and a responsible voice for moderation in the Muslim world,” her statement added.
“Reducing the threat of conflict between India and Pakistan is of critical importance to both countries as well as to the US and international community,” the statement read. “Natwar Singh’s visit is one of the most significant developments since the composite dialogue began in January 2004,” Rocca’s statement said. The long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan adopted under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act “requires that we support Pakistan’s own efforts to combat extremism and transform itself into a moderate, prosperous, democratic state – as a pillar of our strategy to win the war on terrorism”, Rocca’s statement pointed out. online