U.S. plans $2 billion more in military aid for Pakistan
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would seek an additional $2 billion in aid for Pakistan’s military, despite continuing disagreements with Islamabad over the war against militants.
The five-year package, which supplements $7.5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan, would raise annual military aid to about $400 million a year from $300 million. The plan is subject to congressional approval and won’t come up for consideration until next year, congressional sources said.
The announcement came at the end of a week of high-level meetings between U.S. and Pakistani officials in Washington, which were used to promote an image of harmony between the countries.
Behind the scenes, President Obama and other U.S. officials were prodding Islamabad to move more forcefully against militant strongholds on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
And even as the administration touts the additional military aid, it also is moving to cut off assistance to a half-dozen Pakistani military units after concluding that they had killed unarmed civilians and prisoners, two U.S. officials said.
The U.S. finding, which was first reported by the New York Times, comes after an investigation of allegations that Pakistani army units involved in operations against militants in the Swat Valley and other areas in the last two years executed prisoners.
“We do have reason to believe that a half-dozen or so units have engaged in human rights abuses,” an official said.
The Swat region, in northwestern Pakistan, saw large-scale military operations last year after militant groups took control of two districts and began pushing toward major cities in the Punjab region.
In the months after those operations, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad began examining allegations that Pakistani soldiers were killing prisoners and those they suspected of sympathizing with the militants, rather than incarcerating them or turning them over to the Pakistani courts.
A U.S. law known as the Leahy Amendment prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign militaries that have violated human rights, and the officials said the move to halt training and financial support to the Pakistani units was done to comply with the statute. The law was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
The officials would not identify the estimated six units that would be affected, other than that they included Pakistani special forces. Nor would they say how much aid would be withheld. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because a final decision had not been reached.
“The process on our side isn’t completed yet,” one of the officials said.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has discussed the allegations with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s military chief, an aide said.
“The chairman’s very comfortable that Gen. Kayani shares his concerns and that he’s taking steps to improve the conduct and accountability within his military,” said Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, said in an appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department that Pakistan was investigating the charges and would take action if necessary.
In an unusual aside, Qureshi called on Obama to intervene in the Pakistan- India dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir next month during the president’s planned trip to India.
Qureshi referred to Obama’s assertion during the 2008 campaign that the United States should encourage India and Pakistan to resolve the matter.
Indian officials have strongly opposed U.S. involvement.
Daniel Markey, a former State Department official at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that “any comment on Kashmir by Obama would be most unwelcome, and positively counterproductive.”