US pledges financial aid for Pakistan
Hillary Clinton (L) and Pakistani FM Khar are seen in this file photo. REUTERS photoThe Obama administration is pledging robust assistance to Pakistan despite demands on U.S. finances and a sometimes rocky relationship with Islamabad, according to a status report on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The State Department report delivered to Congress on Thursday. The report said the U.S. has reached its “high water mark” for civilian funding and the government in Afghanistan must move toward establishing revenue sources. The report said the U.S. will build a foundation for the Afghans to assume responsibility for their future. On Pakistan, the department said the relationship with Islamabad “is not always easy, but it is vital to our national security and regional interests.” The relationship has been extremely strained the last few months to the point of breaking. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently traveled to the region to pressure Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban-linked Haqqani network, a major threat to American forces in the region. Still, the administration insisted it will continue to provide civilian aid to Pakistan, which has fallen from $1.5 billion in the 2010 fiscal year to $1.1 billion this year. The report said next year’s levels are uncertain, but the administration reaffirms its “commitment to providing robust, multiyear civilian assistant to Pakistan.” It said, however, that the Obama administration intended for assistance to Islamabad to continue and wants to focus on “signature” projects in Pakistan. U.S. officials are currently looking to select a major new infrastructure project “that would both contribute to power generation and water management” in Pakistan, it said.