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 individual Pakistani military units suspected of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture. And, it comes amid ongoing concerns that Pakistan is not fully committed to fighting extremists along its border with Afghanistan.
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 U.S. 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 sought to downplay U.S. worries about Pakistan's commitment to the war on terrorism. She recognized the sacrifices of its soldiers and said that "the United States has no stronger partner when it comes to counterterrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both than Pakistan."
Qureshi said Pakistan appreciated the assistance, but he expressed annoyance at the lingering doubts. He 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 "that offers no quarter, obeys no law and holds nothing sacred."
Nonetheless, he said, there are still comments "even in this capital, about Pakistan's heart being not really in this fight."
"We do not know what greater evidence to offer than the blood of our people," he said.
"Madame Secretary, we are determined to win this fight," Qureshi said, adding that Pakistan would "not allow any space to terrorists on its territory."
Friday's announcement followed news that the administration has been withholding assistance to a handful of Pakistani military units accused of human rights abuses under 1997 legislation. Clinton said those units would not be eligible for the new aid.
"We will continue to ensure that all assistance (will) comply with U.S. laws and regulations," she said. "We take all allegations of human rights abuses seriously and we discuss them with the government of Pakistan and we follow the law and we work with our partners in Pakistan to deal with any issues that come to our attention."
Qureshi said the Pakistani government was aware of the situation but said steps were being taken to correct it.
"I can assure there will be zero tolerance against human right violations," he said. "If there is action required the government of Pakistan will take action."
This week's talks in Washington _ the third round of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue _ came as the countries tried to ease tensions over American military incursions across the border from Afghanistan and allegations that Islamabad is not doing enough to target Taliban militants.
During the last round in Islamabad in July, Clinton announced more than $500 million in aid for a variety of projects, including renovating hospitals, improving water distribution and upgrading hydroelectric dams. The U.S. had to re-examine its plans after the meeting, however, after Pakistan was hit by the worst floods in the country's history.