Pakistan seeks US assistance for USD 1.3 bln military offensive

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From Sajjad Hussain Islamabad, Feb 19: Pakistan has briefed the US on the progress it made during military operations against militants in North Waziristan costing USD 1.3 billion and sought America's help in defraying part of it.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday met Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the US Senate Armed Services Committee, who was accompanied by US Ambassador Richard Olson.

Pak seeks US assistance for USD 1.3 bln

They discussed various security issues including military offensive in North Waziristan which was launched in mid-June last year. Dar said the ongoing military offensive and internally displaced persons (IDPs) has reached USD 400 million and could go as high as USD 1.3 billion, the Express Tribune reported.

He "sought Washington's help in defraying some of the costs." Without explicitly asking for a specific amount from Washington, Dar told Senator Reed that Islamabad faced a severe financial crunch because of the operation and would welcome any international assistance.

The US senator was also informed that Pakistan was dealing with five million refugees, including 3 million Afghan refugees and nearly 2 million people displaced by operations inside the country.

Senator Reed appreciated Islamabad's decision to target all militant groups, including the Haqqani Network, which the US military has identified as the source of several attacks on their forces in Afghanistan.

Reed also agreed that the international community should help Pakistan battle against terrorism. The Senator has made at least seven previous trips to Pakistan and historically been a supporter of stronger US engagement with Islamabad.

PTI

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