Another $2 bn US military aid for Pak?

Pakistan is due to receive another windfall from the Obama administration, reports said.

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: Pakistan is due to receive another windfall from the Obama administration, American media reports said on Tuesday.

CNN reported that the US is finalising a security assistance package for the troubled South Asian nation, totalling as much as USD 2 billion. The aid will be given over a five-year period to help Pakistan battle extremists on its border with Afghanistan, CNN said quoting top administration officials and diplomatic sources.

A formal announcement is likely to be made later this week to coincide with Pakistani officials visit to Washington for high-level talks.

Pakistan`s delegation will be led by its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, but much of the attention will be on Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is viewed by many as the most powerful man in Pakistan.

According to CNN, the package aims to address Pakistan`s insistence it does not have the capability to go after terrorists, and needs more support from the United States, the sources said. The aid will help the Pakistanis purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept communications.

It falls under the United States` Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which provides grants and loans to countries to purchase weapons and defence equipment produced in the United States. It also includes more counter-insurgency assistance to Pakistani troops and a program allowing members of the Pakistani military to study at American war colleges.

The USD 2 billion package will be separate from the billions of dollars Washington already grants to Islamabad in military aid and a USD 7.5 billion aid package over five years in non-military counter-terrorism assistance approved by the Congress last year.

The New York Times also reported today that the Obama administration will offer Pakistan a multi-year security pact complete with more reliable military aid.

"Among the sweeteners on the table will be a multi-year security pact with Pakistan, complete with more reliable military aid - something the Pakistani military has long sought to complement the five-year, USD 7.5 billion package of non-military aid approved by Congress last year," it said.

The administration will also discuss how to channel money to help Pakistan rebuild after its ruinous floods, it said.

But the American gestures come at a time of fraying patience on the part of the Obama administration, and they will carry a familiar warning, a senior American official was quoted as saying.

"If Pakistan does not intensify its efforts to crack down on militants hiding out in the tribal areas of North Waziristan, or if another terrorist plot against the United States were to emanate from Pakistani soil, the administration would find it hard to persuade Congress or the American public to keep supporting the country."

The Pakistanis will come with a similarly mixed message. While Pakistan is grateful for the strong American support after the flood, Pakistani officials were quoted as saying, it remains frustrated by what it perceives as the slow pace of economic aid, the lack of access to American markets for Pakistani goods and the administration`s continued lack of sympathy for the country`s confrontation with India.

Another potential bone of contention is one of President Obama`s nuclear objectives: a global accord to end the production of new nuclear fuel. Pakistan has led the opposition to the accord. And without its agreement, the treaty would be basically useless, the Times said.

Qureshi blamed the US for the situation, saying Washington signed a civilian nuclear accord with India that discriminated against Pakistan. "You have disturbed the nuclear balance," he said in a recent interview in New York, "and we have been forced to develop a new strategy."

(With IANS inputs)