US triples aid to Pakistan, intensifies engagement

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Washington, Mar 21: In a bid to facilitate intense engagement in the economy and promote Pakistan's counter insurgency policies, the Obama administration may triple development aid to Islamabad, while attaching some conditions to enhancement of military assistance.

US President Barack Obama is yet to unveil his fresh strategy on Afghanistan, a presidential source told The News that non-military aid to Pakistan could rise to three times of the current 450 million dollars a year, and guaranteeing it for at least five and potentially ten years.

"You will see intense engagement of Pakistan to keep civilian rule intact, to keep the economy from tanking and to increase assistance for counterinsurgency, especially helicopters," a strategy review participant said.

The US is also likely to attach some condition with increase in the military assistance, which may see hike to a lesser degree.

Currently, the US military aid to Pakistan is running at 300 million dollars a year.

The steps aim to win greater Pakistani cooperation to destroy the safe havens in Pakistan from which insurgents launch attacks in Afghanistan.

Another element of the strategy is to build a bigger Afghan army because it costs about 12,000 dollars a year to support one Afghan soldier compared with 250,000 dollars a year for an American.

ANI

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