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US State Dept seeks funds to resume military training for Pakistan

Local

The US State Department has sought $72 million in its 2021 budgetary request from the Congress for resumption of Pakistan’s participation in a coveted US military training programme and other initiatives. In January, President Donald Trump had authorised the resumption of International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Pakistan. The decision to resume Islamabad’s participation in the IMET – for more than a decade a pillar of US-Pakistani military ties – underscores warming relations that have followed meetings this year between President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan. According to the department’s request, the IMET, improves “defence capabilities through professional military education and training, including technical courses and specialised instruction conducted at US military schoolhouses or through mobile education and training teams abroad”. The department maintained that a total of $104.9 million was needed to strengthen military alliances and international coalitions critical to the US. For South and Central Asia, the department has earmarked a total of $12.7 million out of $104.9 million. Pakistan will receive $3.5 million for the resumption of the IMET facility if the request is authorised by Congress. India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, also priority recipients of the funds alongside Pakistan, are pegged to receive $1.5 million, $800,000 and $1.8 million respectively. “IMET programmes in South and Central Asia support the IndoPacific Strategy by focusing on professionalising the defence forces of regional partners, emphasising professional military education, respect for the rule of law, human rights, and civilian control of the military, including English language training to improve the ability of partner services to work with the United States,” reads the document. IMET is a small facet of US security aid programmes for Pakistan worth some $2 billion that Trump abruptly suspended in January 2018 to compel the nuclear-armed South Asian nation to crackdown on militants. Other than the IMET, the US State Dept has also sought funds for Pakistan in the fields of economic development and anti-terrorism related. The department sought a grand $5,925.6 million for the Economic Support and Development Fund (ESDF) – out of which Pakistan is set to receive $48 million, India will get $50.4 million and Afghanistan $250 million. The figures for India and Afghanistan are down by $20 and $150 million respectively. The fund is aimed to help “countries of strategic importance meet near- and long-term political, economic, development, and security needs”. The State Dept is also seeking a total of $753.6 million for its Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related programmes. NADR supports “a broad range of US national interests through critical, security-related programs that reduce threats posed by international terrorist activities; landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and stockpiles of excess conventional weapons and munitions; nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and other destabilizing weapons and missiles, including Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) and their associated technologies,” reads the document. For Pakistan, the department has sought $6.5 million for conventional weapons destructions. The figure is down $1.5 million from FY20. On the other hand, India and Afghanistan’s figures remain at previous levels of $8 and $10 million. Out of the $1,010.3 million sought under International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE), a total of $84 million is set for South Asia. Pakistan is to receive $14 million and $60 million has been set aside for Afghanistan. Last year, the department had sought $21 million for Pakistan and $95 million for Afghanistan. The department says that the INCLE “resources advance US national security interests in the region by enhancing the security and stability of partner countries through targeted efforts that strengthen effective criminal justice sector and civilian security sector institutions to become more capable of combating TCOs, controlling borders, combating the narcotics trade, prosecuting corruption, and countering cybercrime.” “For Pakistan, assistance will focus on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, including its security.”