US will expedite aid to Pakistan to fight Taliban and Al Qaeda
The relationship has often been stormy. But the US likes the way Pakistan is fighting Taliban extremists and Al Qaeda and is willing to speed along military aid. Help with nuclear power is another matter.
Improving US-Pakistan relations have been on display in Washington this week in a high-level strategic dialogue culminating in two mutually beneficial commitments: more American money in exchange for increased Pakistani dedication to fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda.Skip to next paragraph
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In talks headed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the US side and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for the Pakistani delegation, the US agreed to accelerate the disbursement of about $2 billion in military payments to compensate Pakistan for its military operations against extremists in the regions bordering Afghanistan.
In public remarks Wednesday, Minister Qureshi acknowledged he was a “happy man” after hearing reassurances of the US commitment to his country.
He said Pakistan’s resolve to defeat the forces of extremism it faces remains “undiminished” despite the losses its forces have suffered after more than a year of stepped-up military operations. “It is a matter of standing up for your principles and facing the consequences that come in its wake,” he added.
Past relationship was rocky
The US and Pakistan have had high-level discussions before over the course of an often stormy and mistrustful relationship. But the Obama administration wanted the two days of talks – which included congressional receptions and diplomatic soirees – to underscore that a page has been turned.
One of the clearest signs of what Secretary Clinton called a “new day” in US-Pakistan relations was last year’s passage of a $7.5 billion civilian development program to address Pakistan's education, infrastructure, water, energy, and other needs over the next five years. US officials say steps are being taken to accelerate the disbursement of those funds as well.
But US military officials also highlighted what they see as Pakistan’s robust and unprecedented efforts against extremist forces on its own territory.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who also participated in the talks, described as “extraordinary” the steps Pakistan has taken over the past year “in terms of their operations, in terms of understanding that they now face an existential threat.”