US President Barack Obama today proposed more than USD 1 billion in civilian and military aid to Pakistan, describing it as a “strategically important nation”.
The key elements of the proposed budget include strengthening Pakistani military for its fight against extremism, safety of nuclear installation, stability in Afghanistan, economic development and improvement in ties with India.
The budgetary proposals released by the State Department, after Obama sent his annual budget proposals to the Congress shows a more than six fold increase foreign military financing (FMF) to Pakistan from USD 42.2 million in 2014 to USD 265 million in 2016.
In addition, the Obama Administration proposed USD 334.9 million for economic support fund, USD 143.1 especially for counter-terrorism and non-proliferation efforts.
Pakistan lies at the heart of the US counter-terrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and economic integration in South and Central Asia, the State Department said.
For Pakistan, the budget demonstrates US commitment to fostering stability and prosperity, and provides security assistance that promotes counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities, the State Department said.
The budget continues to support public engagement and partnership programs in Pakistan and maintains staffing in order to support these critical US priorities, the State Department said.
Proposing USD 265 million for Pakistan under foreign military funding (FMF), the State Department argued this is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability in its western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders.
FMF will continue to focus on seven priority areas identified and agreed with Pakistan. This includes precision strike; air mobility and combat search and rescue; counter-improvised explosive device and battlefield survivability; battlefield communications; night operations; border security; and maritime security/counter narcotics in support of counter terrorism aims.
For Pakistan, the overseas contingency operation (OCO) request of USD 36 million, will support critical US activities such as sustaining close cooperation with Pakistan, working with Pakistan to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan, and promoting improved relations with India, it said.
Proposing USD 334.9 million for the fiscal year 2016 as economic support fund (ESF), State Department argued this is critical for achieving US goals of countering terrorism and violent extremism, increasing stability in both Pakistan and the region, and making clear that the United States is not abandoning the region following the transition in Afghanistan.
Proposing another USD 143.1 million, the State Department said Pakistan will continue to be a key partner with on counter-terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation goals, and in achieving lasting stability and economic development in the region.
Noting that funds will demonstrate the US commitment to sustained, long-term engagement with Pakistan, throughout the transition in Afghanistan, the State Department said combined with OCO (overseas contingency operation) resources, these ESF (economic support funds) funds will help increase the Pakistani capacity to respond to the economic, social, and security needs of its people.
The fiscal 2016 funds will build on the progress made in prior years through maintenance of the five-sector strategy that increases the generation and efficient use of energy, including through reform efforts; increasing stability in volatile areas threatened by extremism, fostering economic growth and agricultural production; raising the access to, delivery of, and quality of education; and improving Pakistanâ€™s ability to provide health care to its population.
Proposing USD 46 million, State Department said funding for Pakistan will continue support for Governmentâ€™s initiatives to enhance stability, security, and justice in the country. Assistance will support law enforcement and border security efforts that strengthen the presence, reach, and operational capabilities of Pakistani law enforcement across Pakistan, especially in the challenging terrain bordering Afghanistan and in other priority areas such as Karachi.
The State Department said the OCO funds will help facilitate increased stability and prosperity in this “strategically important nation” and will enable the United States to sustain a presence necessary to achieve essential strategic priorities of combating terrorism and enhancing stability in Pakistan and the region following the transition in Afghanistan.
“OCO resources will support critical US activities such as sustaining close cooperation with Pakistan, ensuring the safety of Pakistani nuclear installations, working with Pakistan to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan, and promoting improved relations with India,” the State Department said.