February 15, 2012

Strained ties? US pledges $2.4bn aid to Pak in 2013


Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | Feb 15, 2012, 05.48AM IST


WASHINGTON: The Obama administrationproposes to lavish $2.4 billion of US taxpayer money on Pakistan in 2013 despite its dodgy role in terrorism and nuclear proliferation that has set the world on edge.

Unveiling an annual budget of $3.8 trillion that calls for tax hikes on the rich, the administration on Monday recommended to the Congress $2.2 billion in assistance to Pakistan including $1.1 billion already authorized under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill and $800 million for the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Capability Fund. An additional $197 million is proposed to support the US government's civilian presence, as well as programs for engagement with Pakistani civil society.

The ostensibly reason offered by the state department for this massive aid to a country most Americans perceive as an enemy (a sentiment that is reciprocated in Pakistan) is that it will "provide a bulwark against extremism and support joint security and counter-terrorism efforts" . Both propositions have been questioned by analysts who have noted the Pakistani military'sembrace of extremism and terrorism, including its anger at the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Despite this, the Obama administration has actually hiked the proposed military financing to Pakistan while scaling down civilian aid. The state department is requesting only $1.1 billion in civilian assistance for 2013. Elsewhere , the administration has requested $800 million under the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Contingency Fund, a reimbursement program for the Pakistani military jointly run by State and DOD.

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