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5-year time span eclipses US' 'conditional' 2bn-dollar military aid offer to Pak

By Nairita Das

Washington, Oct 23 (ANI): On the final day of the latest US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, the United States announced a 2 billion-dollar military aid package designed to prod Pakistan into taking a harder line with safe militant havens within its territory, but it was eclipsed by its long time span extending from 2012 to 2017.

The pledge came at the concluding plenary session at which Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi assured that his government will give "no space" to terrorists on its soil, The Nation reported.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the aid pledge, which is subject to Congressional approval.

It provides a long-term US security commitment along the lines of the five-year, 7.5 billion-dollar civilian aid package for Pakistan approved by Congress last year.

The package would pay for the military hardware and equipment needed by Pakistan for its fight against counterinsurgency, Clinton said.

The aid comes on the heels of a White House report sent to Congress earlier this month that bluntly said that Pakistan was not doing nearly enough to confront the Taliban and Al Qaeda, despite repeated Obama administration statements that Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants.

Qureshi, insisting that suggestions of Pakistan's efforts in the war on terror being half-hearted are unfounded, said that the US should not dismiss Pakistan's contributions.

"Nearly 7,000 of our valiant law enforcement officials have perished in this fight," Qureshi said, adding, "We do not know what greater evidence to offer than the blood of our people. Madam Secretary, we are determined to win this fight."

Pakistan has sustained 30,000 civilian deaths in recent years in a "daily fare of suicide bombings" and other attacks, said the Foreign Minister, adding that seven thousand Pakistani soldiers and police have lost their lives in the struggle- more than combined NATO losses in Afghanistan.

"Nonetheless, it unfortunately seems easy to dismiss Pakistan's contributions and sacrifices. There are still tongue-in-cheek comments, even in this capital, about Pakistan's heart not really being in this fight," Qureshi added.

Recognising Pakistan's efforts, Clinton said, "The United States has no stronger partner when it comes to counter terrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both than Pakistan." (ANI)

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