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US administration proposes $190 million cut in aid to Pakistan

Washington: The Trump administration has proposed $344 million in financial assistance to Pakistan including $100 million in foreign military funding, a massive $190 million reduction in grant as compared to the 2016 fiscal.

"Pakistan plays a key role in US counter-terrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and stability and economic integration in South and Central Asia. It is also a large and growing economy offering profitability for US businesses," the state department said in its annual budget proposals sent to the US Congress.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hands Trump note as Trump sits down to meeting with of GCC leaders during their summit in Riyadh. Reuters

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hands Trump note as Trump sits down to meeting with of GCC leaders during their summit in Riyadh. Reuters

In the maiden budget of the Trump administration, the state department said that it will maintain a robust diplomatic presence that will enable continued bilateral cooperation on the many joint US-Pakistan interests, and bolster stability in this strategically important country.

The state department has proposed $344 million in financial assistance and grant to Pakistan including $100 million in foreign military funding, which is used for sale of military hardware.

Last year, the US assistance to Pakistan under the state department budget was $534 million, which included $225 million towards foreign military funding.

In all, the state department has proposed a massive $190 million reduction in its financial assistance to Pakistan as compared with the 2016 fiscal. The current 2017 fiscal would end on September 30 this year.

In addition to state department's financial assistance, Pakistan also receives reimbursement from the Pentagon every year for its expenses towards US operations in Afghanistan.

However, after Afghanistan, Pakistan continues to be the second largest aid recipient of the US in South Asia.

For instance, the state department has proposed a $200 million aid to support its long-term stability and broader security and stability in the region.

Programs will strengthen trust in governance institutions, improve economic growth, and promote sustained efforts against militant ideologies in areas most vulnerable to extremism and extremist organisations, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, it said.

It will foster tolerance and peace-building to reduce the influence of violent extremist groups, including the Taliban and Islamic State, by creating partnerships between the government and civil society groups, and improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of government, it said.

The state department has proposed $100 million to Pakistan under the Overseas Contingency Operations, which it said will be used to advance US national security interests in Pakistan by supporting Pakistan's capacity to improve stability and security and fight terrorism, including through the elimination of safe havens for terrorist and militant organisations.

The state department has also proposed $25 million to build Pakistan's capacity to combat violent extremism and transnational crime; secure its borders; build the human and institutional capacity of civilian law enforcement; counter the production and trafficking of illicit narcotics; and enhance the rule of law and access to justice.

Specifically, assistance will provide training, equipment, targeted infrastructure development, and other forms of assistance to build the capacity of Pakistan's civilian law enforcement organisations to counter violent extremism, improve law and order, and implement community policing best practices, it said.

Under a financial assistance of $0.8 million, the state department proposes to provide technical assistance to include Weapons of Mass Destruction and dual-use commodity detection and identification equipment (and repairs) to improve Pakistan's border security capabilities, specifically in its cross-border enforcement cooperation with Afghanistan.

The state department has also proposed $4 million towards Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA), which it said would be used to provide training, and exchange programs in order to strengthen the ability of law enforcement forces to conduct rapid responses to terrorist incidents.

"Funds will primarily be used to assist government of Pakistan efforts to develop its special weapons and tactics teams. These resources are also intended to help build border security cooperation and capability with regional partners," the budget papers added.


Updated Date: May 24, 2017 07:32 AM

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