U.S. announces $2 billion military aid package for Pakistan

Pakistani police officers cordon off the area of a grenade attack that occurred at a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar earlier this week. The attack injured a police officer.

Associated Press

Pakistani police officers cordon off the area of a grenade attack that occurred at a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar earlier this week. The attack injured a police officer.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday laid out a five-year, $2 billion military aid package for Pakistan as it pressed the Islamabad government to intensify its fight against extremists there and in neighboring Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the plan during the latest round of U.S.-Pakistani strategic dialogue. The administration will ask Congress for $2 billion for Pakistan to purchase U.S.-made arms, ammunition and accessories from 2012 to 2016, Clinton said.

The aid comes even as the administration is withholding assistance to certain Pakistani military units suspected of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture. A law known as the Leahy Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign militaries that have violated human rights.

The new aid replaces a similar but less valuable package that began in 2005 and expired on Oct. 1. It will complement $7.5 billion in civilian assistance the administration has already committed to Pakistan over five years, some of which has been diverted to help the country deal with devastating floods.

The United States hopes the announcement, made by Clinton with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at her side, will reassure Pakistan of the long-term U.S. commitment to Pakistan's military needs. The money also should help Pakistan bolster its efforts to go after Taliban and al-Qaida affiliates on its territory.

Clinton, seeking to downplay worries about Pakistan's commitment to the war on terrorism, said, "The United States has no stronger partner when it comes to counterterrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both than Pakistan."

Qureshi said nearly 30,000 Pakistani civilians have died in terrorist attacks and nearly 7,000 soldiers and police have been killed fighting a foe "that offers no quarter, obeys no law and holds nothing sacred."

Attacks on soldiers, mosque kill 9

Bombs hit a Sunni mosque on the outskirts of Peshawar and a group of soldiers in the Orakzai tribal region in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing nine people. Army airstrikes later in the day killed 22 suspected insurgents in the area where the soldiers had been traveling, officials said. In June, the Pakistani army declared victory over the Taliban in Orakzai, but that declaration was premature and fighting was reported in the days afterward.

U.S. announces $2 billion military aid package for Pakistan 10/22/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 12:48am]

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