Obama admin proposes USD 3.1 billion for Pakistan

Washington: US President Barack Obama has proposed to Congress a USD 3.1 billion in financial assistance to Pakistan for the year 2012.

This is part of the Administration`s ongoing effort towards its continued funding for operations and assistance in key regions of the world — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Of this as many as USD 1.9 billion in assistance has been proposed to promote a secure, stable, democratic and prosperous Pakistan with a focus on energy, economic growth, agriculture, the delivery of health and education services, and strengthening the Government of Pakistan`s capacity to govern effectively and accountably.

USD 1.5 billion of this is part of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill.

Another USD 45 million has been proposed in operations to support infrastructure for maintaining the US government civilian and diplomatic presence and to support educational and cultural exchange programs to build bridges with civil society.

"We have USD 350 million in that part of the budget for FMF (Foreign Military Financing) programs, which is part of the five-year agreement that we have made with the government of Pakistan," a State Department official told reporters.

In addition to USD 1.9 billion, Obama has also proposed USD 1.2 billion to Pakistan under the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Budget.

This includes USD 1.1 billion for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) to provide critical equipment and training for Pakistani security forces, increasing the ability of the Pakistani government to combat insurgents inside that country and eliminating the insurgent`s capacity to conduct cross-border operations in Afghanistan that jeopardize US lives and the mission there.

In 2010, Pakistan received USD 79 million under OCO budget, which is estimated to jump to USD 1.3 billion in 2011.

"So the unique part of the budget, the extraordinary part of the budget is the PCCF. The enduring part of the budget is more of our economic and military assistance that?s going to be sustainable over the long term," he said.

An OCO budget is of great help as we transition from military-led to civilian-led operations since it provides a mechanism through which we can view and budget for a transition to a more normal diplomatic presence in these countries when appropriate, the budgetary proposals said.

The Obama Administration also requests for continuation of funding for global intelligence operations, which it says will support its strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regions of strategic importance to the US.

"Intelligence Community collection and analysis play a key role in informing decision-makers at the strategic level and supporting the war fighter at a tactical level," it said.

The Budget continues significant levels of funding for operations and assistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan within the base budget while extraordinary and temporary costs are requested as Overseas Contingency Operations funding, the proposal said.

Base resources requested to support strong, long-term partnerships with these countries include core diplomatic and development operational support funding and economic development, health, education, governance, security, and other assistance programs necessary to reinforce development progress and ensure stability, the budget said.

Pakistan and Israel, the budget papers says, gets priority over others.

In fact it has ended bilateral assistance to as many as 14 countries, as part of its budgetary reductions.

These countries are Chile, Haiti, Malta, East Timor, and Tonga under FMF category.

While under the International Military Education and Training account it has ended bilateral assistance to nine countries Equatorial Guinea, Iceland, Kuwait, Madagascar, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates.

"Requested security assistance funds will become more focused on key priorities including program funding for Israel, Pakistan and other coalition partners and allies, as well as programs that are critical to containing trans- national threats including terrorism and trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and persons," the budget says.