Washington DC: The US Pentagon wants to give the Pakistani military as much as $2.64 billion (Rs12,487 crore) to buy better weapons and provide more training for its battle against insurgents.
About $400 million is included in an emergency wartime measure for the second half of this fiscal year that is now being reviewed by the White House, according to a 6 November memo from acting comptroller Douglas Brook.
The remainder—$2.2 billion —will be sought over the next five years, starting with $573 million in the fiscal 2010 budget, Brook wrote. The money will be controlled by US central command so that it can be disbursed quickly, he stated.
The request reflects US concern that Pakistan needs more help in shifting its focus from a potential conflict with India to its fight with the Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists in its northwest provinces. Those militants pose a threat to coalition forces in Afghanistan and increasingly to Pakistan itself.
Suicide bombings perpetrated in Pakistan by suspected Islamic extremists grew to 57 in 2007 from two in 2002, according to the US National Counterterrorism Center’s most recent annual report. More than 2,000 people were killed in terrorist related incidents in 2007, up 137% from 2006.
US intelligence agencies in July 2007 said Osama bin Laden’s network is resurgent in the northwest provinces and also poses a direct threat to the US homeland.
The proposed Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund is separate from current aid programmes, including one that reimburses Pakistan for its military operations in the mountainous northwest region and a five-year $3 billion pool of combined economic and military assistance.
Pakistan since 2001 has received about $6.7 billion in reimbursements. This funding will continue and will be sought through emergency legislation, Brook said.
The new fund is necessary to ensure Pakistan has the tools and resources to perform more effectively in its counterinsurgency role, Brook wrote.
Such funding would allow for a significantly greater Pentagon role in training and equipping Pakistani forces than we have seen in recent years, congressional research service Pakistan analyst Alan Kronstadt said in an emailed statement.
Pentagon spokesman Army lieutenant colonel Mark Wright said the fund is still considered a topic under general discussion, and it would be premature to put anything out at this time.
There is not a final proposal to put forward yet, and even if there were, it would still be inappropriate to discuss it before it had been presented to Congress, he said in an email.