US to continue civilian aid to Pakistan: Hillary

"The US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue will continue, as will our efforts to foster increased regional and international economic linkages.

Washington: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said the generous civilian aid to Pakistan would
continue despite the uneasy relationship with Islamabad as
disengagement with it is not an option for the US.

"As our commanders on the ground will attest, it is
critical to our broader strategy that civilian assistance
continue in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Disengaging now
would undermine our military and political efforts and the
national security interests of the US," she said in remarks
accompanying a status report on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The civilian surge in Afghanistan and Pakistan that
President (Barack) Obama launched in 2009 to accompany the
military surge in Afghanistan has helped advance our goals of
defeating al Qaeda, reversing Taliban`s momentum in key areas,
and bolstering the economy and civil society of both
countries," she said.

"As US troops begin a phased drawdown in Afghanistan as
part of the larger plan for transition, our civilian
initiatives in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are assuming new
importance," she said.

The 23-page `Status Report: Afghanistan and Pakistan
Civilian Engagement` that was submitted to the Congress
yesterday provides a thorough review of US civilian efforts,
identifies significant challenges and areas of progress, and
outlines the way forward.

In its report, the State Department acknowledges that
America`s relationship with Pakistan is not always easy, but
it is vital to its national security and regional interests.

The US will continue to provide civilian aid to Pakistan,
which has come down from USD 1.5 billion in the 2010 fiscal
year to USD 1.1 billion this year.

"We have many shared interests, and it is important we
continue to find a way to act on them jointly. Ultimately it
is up to the Pakistani people and their civilian-led
government to chart a positive course for Pakistan`s future,"
the report said.

"But it is also clearly in the national interest of the
United States to help build a self-sufficient Pakistan,
governed by democratic and civilian-led institutions able to
provide jobs and opportunities, ensure human rights for its
people, and contribute to stability in the region through
sound economic and political relations with its neighbours.
This is the most effective way to combat extremism," it said.

It said the US plans to focus more on programs that will
stimulate economic growth through infrastructure development,
enterprise development, increased agriculture productivity,
and policy reform that stimulates private investment.

"Our focus will remain on visible infrastructure that
helps build the foundation for economic growth, and capacity
building of the Pakistani government and other institutions,
which are key to strengthening Pakistan`s democracy,
governance, and long-term stability," the report said.

"The US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue will continue, as
will our efforts to foster increased regional and
international economic linkages. In the energy working group,
we continue to work with Pakistani counterparts to make
progress in reforming the energy sector to help improve
economic viability," the report said.


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