While underscoring the importance of its wide-ranging assistance for Pakistan, the United States has said the strategically located country connecting South and Central Asia will remain a key player in security and economic development of region.
“Developing an enduring and collaborative relationship with an increasingly stable and prosperous Pakistan that plays a constructive role in the region will therefore continue to be a priority for the United States,” the State Department’s budget document, stresses while justifying its request for foreign assistance in the financial year 2015 says.
The Obama administration’s around $1 billion request for Pakistan in the new financial year is part of $46.2 billion budget for State Department and the US Agency for International Development. “Pakistan will remain a key player in US counterterrorism and nuclear non-proliferation efforts in FY 2015, as well as in our long-term objectives of economic development and stability in the region,” the document says.
The FY 2015 base funds will support the new government of Pakistan in its reform, economic growth, and long-term stabilisation efforts and “demonstrate that the US will remain engaged in the region following the transition in Afghanistan”. “These funds will continue our long-term engagement policy that is designed to strengthen Pakistan’s civilian government and enhance its ability to respond to the economic, social, and security needs of its people.”
According to the document, these resources will sustain the five-pillar strategy that includes supporting the government’s efforts to build a commercially viable energy sector, including both reforms and expanding power generation; fostering economic growth and employment; increasing long-term stability in volatile areas threatened by extremism, particularly those along the border with Afghanistan; and improving Pakistan’s ability to provide education and healthcare to its population.
The administration’s FY 2015 International Affairs request also includes $5.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The allocation will fund extraordinary costs of Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) operations and programs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
For Pakistan, the OCO supports a robust diplomatic presence and critical assistance programs to support the government and its people following Pakistan’s first democratic transition. The $280 million Pakistan request will enhance the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Air Force, and Navy’s ability to conduct counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism (CT) operations against militants and also encourage continued US-Pakistan military-to-military engagement.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2014.