US announces $2bn military aid package for Pakistan

By Kim Ghattas|BBC News

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi held talks at the State Department on October 22. Photo: AFP

The US has announced a $2bn (£1.3bn) package of military and security aid to Pakistan over five years on the final day of US-Pakistan strategic talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the deal, which is subject to Congressional approval.

But the Obama administration will make clear it expects Islamabad to do more in the fight against Islamic militants. The US has given Pakistan more than $1bn of military aid a year since 2005; last fiscal year, it gave nearly $2bn. US officials said Pakistan needed further, specific assistance for the fight against militants and needed to know it could rely on the US in the long term.

So unlike previous military aid approved on a yearly basis, this is a five-year package. The aid will pay for equipment needed in counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations, among other things.

‘Reducing threats to US’

Vali Nasr, a senior adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the state department, told the BBC that the battle against Pakistani militants had expanded over the last year, but the summer’s monsoon floods had undone a lot of the Pakistani army’s efforts.

“We believe that we have made a great deal of progress and we believe that that progress has reduced the threat to our homeland, while not eliminating it,” Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, said this week.

But officials in Washington have also been frustrated at the limits of Pakistan’s desire and ability to help.

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