New aid will improve Pak`s anti-terror capabilities: Pentagon

Pakistani army, which is "well- equipped" to take head-on the terrorist safe havens, will be able to further improve its capabilities with the new USD two billion security aid, the Pentagon has said.

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010, 20:36 PM IST

Washington: Pakistani army, which is "well-
equipped" to take head-on the terrorist safe havens, will be
able to further improve its capabilities with the new USD two
billion security aid, the Pentagon has said, amid reports that
the US is frustrated with Islamabad`s "unwillingness" to mount
a campaign against militants.

"We have always said that Pakistanis have the ability to
conduct those operations, but it will be done at a time and
place of their choosing," Pentagon spokesman Lt David Lapan
told reporters.

Lapan was responding to questions about reports that the
US will announce a security assistance package totalling as
much as USD 2 billion over the next five years to help
Pakistan fight terrorism on its border with Afghanistan.

"It is all in improving their capabilities. It is not
that they do not have capabilities, but continuing to improve
capabilities across the force," Lapan said.

"The Secretary (of Defence) said in the past that they
(Pakistan) are the ones with foot on the accelerator. They
have to decide what is most appropriate, but it is not for
lack of capabilities," the Pentagon spokesman said.

Lapan said that Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
would meet Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani at the Pentagon tomorrow.

The joint Defence Working Group of the two countries
would also hold meetings at the Pentagon, he said. "Focus of
those discussions will be flood relief, Pakistan-US counter
insurgent efforts in our respective areas and follow up on our
defence consultative group discussions."

The proposed aid, news reports said, will help Pakistan
purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to
intercept communications. The USD 2 billion package is on top
of billions of dollars that the US has already given to
Pakistan in military aid and a USD 7.5 billion aid package
over five years in non-military counter-terrorism assistance
approved by Congress last year.

Meanwhile, `The Wall Street Journal` reported today there
is increasing US frustration with Pakistan over what they see
as Islamabad`s unwillingness to mount a campaign against
militants who have havens in North Waziristan and Balochistan.

North Waziristan is the main base for operations for the
Haqqani network of Taliban that frequently attacks US forces
in eastern Afghanistan and has close ties with al Qaeda,
which also takes refuge in the area. Leaders of the
Afghan-Taliban are based in Balochistan.

"The new military aid ... would pay for equipment
Pakistan can use for counter-insurgency and counter-terror
operations. US officials say they hope the new aid could
effectively eliminate Pakistan`s objections that it doesn`t
have the equipment needed to launch more operations in tribal
areas," the daily said.

PTI