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Obama proposes over USD 1 bn civil, military aid to Pakistan

Barack Obama

Washington: US President Barack Obama has proposed over USD 1 billion in civilian and military aid to “strategically important” Pakistan for fighting terror, economic development, safety of nuclear installations and improving ties with India among other objectives.

The budgetary proposals released by the State Department after Obama sent them to the Congress show a more than six- fold increase in the foreign military financing (FMF) to Pakistan from USD 42.2 million in 2014 to USD 265 million in 2016.

The key elements of the proposed budget include strengthening Pakistani military for its fight against extremism, safety of nuclear installations, stability in Afghanistan, economic development and improving ties with India.

In addition, the Obama Administration proposed USD 334.9 million for economic support fund and USD 143.1 million especially for counter-terrorism and non-proliferation efforts.

Pakistan lies at the heart of the US counter-terrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and economic integration in South and Central Asia, the State Department said.

For Pakistan, the budget demonstrates US commitment to fostering stability and prosperity, and provides security assistance that promotes counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities, the State Department said.

The budget continues to support public engagement and partnership programmes in Pakistan and maintains staffing in order to support these critical US priorities, the State Department said.

Proposing USD 265 million for Pakistan under foreign military funding (FMF), the State Department argued that this is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability in its western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders.

FMF will continue to focus on seven priority areas identified and agreed with Pakistan. These include– precision strike; air mobility and combat search and rescue; counter- improvised explosive device and battlefield survivability; battlefield communications; night operations; border security; and maritime security/counter narcotics in support of counter terrorism aims.

For Pakistan, the overseas contingency operation (OCO) request of USD 36 million, will support critical US activities such as sustaining close cooperation with Islamabad, working with the country to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan and promoting improved relations with India.

The State Department said the OCO funds will help facilitate increased stability and prosperity in this “strategically important nation”.

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