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US to announce massive aid package today
07-19-2010, 01:02 PM
Post: #1
US to announce massive aid package today
ISLAMABAD (July 19 2010): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce Monday a massive aid deal for Pakistan, a senior US official said, as it seeks to build relations with its wavering anti-terror ally. The money will focus on vital energy and water sectors, the official said, shortly after Clinton arrived in Islamabad on Sunday for high-level talks, adding that full details of the projects would be announced on Monday.

The projects will be part of a five-year, 7.5 billion-dollar aid package approved by US Congress last year, which hopes to temper anti-Americanism in Pakistan by building schools, infrastructure and democratic institutions.

The plan includes several water dam projects in the areas of Gomal Zam, Satpara and Baluchistan. Three hospitals will also be renovated and expanded in Karachi, Lahore and Jacobabad. Two specific programmes are to be devoted to agriculture, one for the training of farmers in dairy production, and the other to increase production and export of mangoes.

APP adds: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will present about $500 million in new US aid to Pakistan as part of ongoing efforts to improve America's partnership with a key player in President Barack Obama's Afghanistan war strategy, The Washington Post reported.

The aid, primarily for water and energy projects, is the first major funding to flow from a $7.5 billion, five-year development package under Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act.

The aid measure was approved by the United States Congress last fall and according to the Post, the US economic assistance this year is projected to surpass military aid to Pakistan for the first time in a decade. Clinton who arrived in Islamabad on Sunday, first travelled to Pakistan as secretary of state in October last year.

Since the initial session of the strategic dialogue in Washington March this year, representatives of the two governments have drawn up lists of agreed projects, with the United States seeking programs that will be visible to the greatest number of Pakistanis, the Post reported.

"We think you're going to find a different situation here" in terms of anti-American feeling compared to Clinton's last visit, Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for the region, said.

Pakistan's discontent with the United States stems mainly from Washington's abandonment of the country after getting Islamabad's key help in ousting the Soviet Union from neighbouring Afghanistan at the end of 1980s.

Meanwhile, according to CNN a top US official described Pakistan as "one of the most critical countries in the world." The United States has an intense interest in what happens in the tribal regions on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Richard Holbrooke said, according to CNN. al Qaeda is thought to be based in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The region is among Washington's "highest priorities," Holbrooke said, but to make progress, "we need to change the core of the relationship" between the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"The fact that we are delivering is producing change in Pakistani attitudes," Holbrooke said. Recent polls have indicated a slight improvement in Pakistani opinion about the United States.

After her two-day visit to Pakistan, Clinton will travel to Kabul for a conference where Karzai is expected to announce concrete plans for reintegration of low-level Taliban fighters, anti-corruption plans, a new community defence program and other initiatives that the international community has agreed to fund.
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