US proposes $336 mn in civil, military aid to Pakistan

14 Feb 2018


The $4-trillion annual US budget for the new fiscal year 2019 unveiled by President Donald Trump on Monday proposes $256 million in civilian assistance and $80 million in military aid to Pakistan, in what is seen as reward for its clampdown on militant outfits.

The fresh proposal of aid to Pakistan comes weeks after the Trump administration suspended nearly $2 billion in security assistance to Islamabad. The White House had said it would consider lifting the freeze if Pakistan acts against militant groups operating in the country.

The annual budgetary proposals sent by the White House to the Congress, however, say the military aid depends on Pakistan taking action against terrorist safe havens.

''The budget requests $256 million for Pakistan in economic and other assistance to help increase stability, promote economic growth and create opportunities for US businesses,'' said the annual budgetary proposals sent by the White House to the Congress.

''In addition, the budget requests $80 million in foreign military financing assistance to enhance Pakistan's counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities, contingent on Pakistan taking appropriate action to expand cooperation in areas where US-Pakistan interests converge and to address areas of divergence, in line with the administration's South Asia strategy,'' the White House said.

The move comes amidst reports of Pakistan evading action against militant groups. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is reported to have told lawmakers that Islamabad was avoiding cooperating with America to take counter terrorism steps.

CNN quoted the official as saying that the actions that Pakistan has taken to date do not reflect an escalation of pressure against terror groups and are unlikely to have a lasting effect. ''Ongoing Pakistani military operations against the Taliban and associated groups probably reflect the desire to appear more proactive and responsive to our requests for more actions against these groups,'' Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The budget furthers the US goal of a stable and secure South Asia by supporting the Afghan government and security forces in their fight against the Taliban insurgents and militant organisations such as al Qaeda and Islamic State.

The budget proposals include requests for more than $5 billion for continued US training and assistance for the Afghan security forces and continues counter-terrorism operations by US forces to ensure that the region cannot be used by militant, terrorist groups to plot transnational attacks against the US homeland, citizens overseas, or allies and partners. ''The budget also continues to include funding to support America's partnership with Pakistan,'' the proposal read.

Meanwhile, the US defence budget unveiled by the Pentagon for fiscal 2019 proposes a $686 billion spending plan - a more than 10 per cent hike in spending from $612 billion in 2018 - and adds thousands more troops across the US military services.

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