WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is putting the final touches on a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan.The aid is expected to be announced later this week when Pakistani officials are in Washington to hold high-level strategic talks, U.S. officials and diplomatic sources told CNN channel.The package aims to address Pakistan’s insistence it does not have the capability to go after terrorists and needs more support from the United States, the sources said.The aid will help the Pakistanis purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept ommunications.It falls under the U.S.’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which provides grants and loans to countries to purchase weapons and defense equipment produced in the United States.According to the channel, the $2 billion package is on top of billions of dollars the United States already gives Pakistan in military aid and a $7.5 billion aid package over five years in non-military assistance approved by Congress last year.
“The key is to beef up their ability to go after militants, it can’t be diverted to other threats,” one senior U.S. official said.
Pakistan has long argued its military is geared toward defending itself against threats from India and does not have the kind of equipment it needs to fight insurgents. U.S. officials said they recognize
Pakistan’s current military hardware is not perfectly suited toward such operations but made clear the new aid must be directed toward fighting extremists rather than India, the report said.“We recognize they need different kinds of capacities and more of them to handle extremists form within their own border,” one official said.
“They do need more capacity and the kinds of capabilities that are geared toward fighting extremists, rather than a major land conflict.”U.S. officials acknowledge the Pakistani military is stretched thin since this summer’s devastating floods and has had to divert resources from the fight against extremists to conduct relief efforts.
They hope the new security assistance will address the military’s resource limitations so they can redouble efforts to go after militants.“There is an expectation with that capacity comes a greater effort,” a senior official said. Even with a recent harsh White House report on Pakistan’s anti terror efforts, U.S. officials do acknowledge that Pakistan has made some progress in combating terrorism, noting the country has suffered thousands of casualties as a result of its campaign against extremists in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will co-chair the strategic dialogue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will be among the top officials attending three days of meetings starting Wednesday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff attending from the U.S. side.The talks address all facets of the relationship between Washington and Islamabad = App