Honour aid promises, Pakistan urges US

May 5th, 2009 - 12:24 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, May 4 (IANS) The US should honour its promises of financial and military aid to Pakistan to enable it continue the war against terror, the country’s envoy here said as President Asif Ali Zardari headed for Washington for talks with US President Barack Obama.
“It is unfair to blame the civilian leadership that is bravely mobilizing the nation against terrorism when it is our American partners who have also slowed us down in the war effort by slowing down the flow of assistance,” The Washington Post Monday quoted ambassador Hussain Haqqani as saying.

After the Bush administration poured “billions of dollars” into Pakistan under the “dictatorship” of then president Pervez Musharraf, the Obama administration had produced little.

Haqqani also rejected criticism about the Pakistan government’s performance in dealing with the militants, but added: “We trust that President Obama’s emphasis on Pakistan will also translate promises into deliverables.”

Zardari will be here for a two-day trilateral meeting Wednesday-Thursday involving the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan on Obama’s new Af-Pak strategy. This apart, Obama will seperately meet Zardari and Afghan President Barack Obama.

A media report Sunday said Pakistan has asked the US for more arms, including helicopters, saying what they’ve got isn’t enough to fight the Al Qaeda and Taliban forces threatening Pakistan’s stability.

As the US Congress weighs aid for Pakistan with Islamabad remaining resistant to any strings attached, there was no indication whether the equipment would be sought in addition to the $7.5 billion over five years already proposed for Pakistan by Obama, The Hill, which focuses on politics on the Capitol Hill, reported.

It also quoted Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit as saying in Islamabad last week that other countries, including Britain, had been approached for help with additional helicopters, yet “no worthwhile response” had been received.

Meanwhile, a respected scholar has warned that Pakistan must move to the top of the US strategic agenda to prevent Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal from falling into the hands of Taliban, or worse, an extremist group that seized control of the government.

The “second scenario (would give) international terrorists even greater access to Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, the risk of nuclear confrontation with India would also increase dramatically,” John R. Bolton wrote Monday in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Obama’s endorsement of Pakistan’s official position that it has secure control over its nuclear weapons arsenal is “not reassuring in light of the Taliban’s military and political gains throughout Pakistan”, wrote the former US ambassador to the UN, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

On his part, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the US believes the Taliban’s recent push in Pakistan has served as a wake-up call for Islamabad, which has long focused on India as its main threat, with little regard for the largely ungoverned western front.

“For 60 years Pakistan has regarded India as its existential threat, as the main enemy. And its forces are trained to deal with that threat,” Gates said in an interview with CNN aired Sunday.

“That’s where it has the bulk of its army and the bulk of its military capability,” he maintained.

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