Pakistan asks US administration to increase aid
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari called on the new US administration of President Barack Obama Wednesday to increase its military and development aid to fight Islamic militants, reported dpa.
In an opinion piece published in Wednesday's Washington Post, Zardari said he hoped Obama understood that "for Pakistan to defeat the extremists, it must be stable. For democracy to succeed, Pakistan must be economically viable."
He urged the administration to convince Congress to approve a bill introduced last year to give Pakistan 1.5 billion dollars for social development. Zardari said it would signal to the Muslim nation that it was no longer a relationship of political convenience but rather of shared values and goals.
Pakistan has received more than 10 billion dollars since it joined the US-led alliance Islamist rebels in Afghanistan, including some 297 million dollars every year since 2003 in the form of military grants to quell the Taliban militancy.
"Strengthening our democracy and helping us to improve education, housing and health care is the greatest tool we could wield against extremism. Indeed, such policy is the fanatics' worst fear," Zardari wrote.
Dissatisfied with Pakistan's efforts to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaeda safe havens on its soil, the Obama administration has hinted at linking aid to its success in containing the insurgency.
On Monday, Pakistan financial adviser Shaukat Tarin told reporters the United States had deducted 55 million dollars from a bill for 156 million dollars sent by the Islamic republic for rendering its military services to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
"Assistance to Pakistan is not charity; rather, the creation of a politically stable and economically viable Pakistan is in the long-term, strategic interest of the United States," Zardari wrote.
He reiterated Pakistan's commitment to fight extremism and terrorism, saying, "We need no lectures on our commitment. This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying."
Zardari asked US to provide necessary resources and newest technology so that "we can fight the terrorists proactively on our terms, not reactively on their terms."