US releasing $1.6bn in Pakistan assistance
24 October, 2013
WASHINGTON: The United States will release $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan, boosting a flow of assistance that slowed in recent years amid a downturn in relations, an official said Tuesday.
The State Department has notified Congress that it intends to release the funds already budgeted for in previous years including the fiscal year 2012. The bulk of the funding is made up of $1.38 billion in military aid, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said. The rest is $260.5 million in civilian aid.
"The $260.5 million in civilian assistance is part of the total $959.5 million in FY2012 civilian assistance to be notified, because much of the civilian assistance continued unaffected during the slow down," she told AFP.
Some of the delayed funds stretch back as far as 2009, she added. Meanwhile, the State Department has also requested a further $1.16 billion in funding for Pakistan for the 2014 US budget which has yet to be approved by Congress. This would be broken down into $857 million of civilian assistance and $305 million of security assistance. The news came as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in the United States on the highest level official Pakistani visit for several years.
Nawaz, who swept back into power in May, was to meet with President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House, as relations appear to be warming after years of strain. Ties plunged to one of their lowest levels following the 2011 killing by US commandos of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan, and the later killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US air strike.
The US State Department said Sunday it has asked Congress to resume more than $300 million in blocked security assistance to Pakistan.
"This is part of a long process of restarting security assistance cooperation after implementation was slowed during the bilateral challenges of 2011 and 2012," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told AFP.
The development came as Secretary of State John Kerry met with Nawaz. "We have a lot to talk about and the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important," Kerry said at the start of the meeting.