Washington, July 26 : A powerful US congressional committee has moved closer to approving another 75 million dollars for Pakistan's anti-terrorism efforts along the Afghan border.
Ahead of the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's visit -- the first by the elected leader since parliamentary elections early this year -- there have been strong expressions of support for Pakistan's democratic government and sustained economic development of its people by both the Bush Administration and the Congress.
The 75 million dollars in the pending 2009 Defence Department budget is set aside to help bolster the Pakistan Frontier Corp in its efforts to confront terrorism challenges along the Afghan border through a combination of economic, political and security measures.
The House Armed Services Committee has authorised the funding, and it now awaits approval from the House Appropriations Committee, the Daily Times reported.
Gilani is due to meet President George W Bush at the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney and top Congressional leaders during the three-day visit.
"Pakistan is a key partner in the war on terror. It plays a critical role in our long-term efforts to build a stable and prosperous South Asia," a State department spokesman said.
Gonzalo Gallegos, acting State Department deputy spokesman, called the F-16 programme as "a tangible symbol of the US-Pakistan relationship".
Pakistan is currently undergoing economic turmoil, including rising food and fuel prices, and this is a daunting challenge to the new civilian government, he said, strongly defending the administration's move to shift anti-terrorism funds to upgrade the fighter planes, which are also used in counter-terrorism efforts.