October 22nd, 2010
01:24 PM ET

U.S. proposes $2 billion security package for Pakistan

The Obama administration announced a $2 billion,
multiyear security assistance package Friday to help Pakistan fight extremists
taking refuge in safe havens along its border with Afghanistan.

The five-year package would pay for military hardware and equipment
Pakistan needs for the counterinsurgency fight, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said. It is subject to congressional approval, and complements the $7.5
billion in civilian projects approved by Congress last year.

"The United States has no stronger partner when it comes to
counterterrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both than
Pakistan," Clinton said.

She made the announcement at the opening of the U.S.-Pakistan Plenary
Session at the State Department, alongside Pakistan's foreign minister, Mahmood
Qureshi.

The aid would extend from 2012 to 2017. It comes on the heels of a White
House report sent to Congress earlier this month that used unusually tough
language suggesting Pakistan is not doing nearly enough to confront the Taliban
and al Qaeda, despite repeated Obama administration statements that Pakistan is
working hard to crack down on militants.

Qureshi said the United States should not dismiss Pakistan's
contributions, and insisted that suggestions that Pakistan's efforts in the war
on terror are half-hearted are unfounded.

"Nearly 7.000 of our valiant law enforcement officials have perished in
this fight," Qureshi said. "We do not know what greater evidence to offer than
the blood of our people. Madam Secretary, we are determined to win this fight."

Some elements of the Pakistani military would be excluded from the aid
package because of human rights concerns, the State Department's spokesman said
later Friday.

The exclusions are in keeping with congressional requirements that no
military units about which there are human rights concerns can benefit from any
U.S. military aid, P.J. Crowley said at a news conference.

"A relatively small number" of units would be excluded, Crowley said.

Tensions between the United States and Pakistan rose in recent weeks
after increased American drone attacks over the Afghan-Pakistani border, one of
which killed two Pakistani border guards. Pakistan authorities responded by
closing key coalition supply routes into Afghanistan.

The United States has since apologized for the incident, and the routes
have reopened.

Pakistan has long claimed its military is geared toward defending itself
against threats from countries like 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 to such
operations, but made clear the new aid must be directed toward fighting
extremists rather than India.

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 Pakistan can
redouble efforts to go after militants.

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