$1.6bn aid part of annual funding process: US embassy

ISLAMABAD: The United States has expressed satisfaction over the positive development in bilateral relationship with Pakistan that led to the decision to release $ 1.6 billion civilian assistance and disbursement of $ 322 million under Coalition Support Fund (CSF) ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington.

“We are pleased by the positive developments in our bilateral relationship in recent months. We continue to work with the Pakistanis to tackle the many shared challenges facing us,” said a spokesperson for the US Embassy here while responding to queries by Business Recorder.

The development came ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ongoing visit to the US, to hold talks on wide-ranging issues with the Obama Administration.

The decision to release $1.6 billion in US civilian assistance was “part of our annual funding process, throughout the course of this past summer the State Department notified Congress of how it planned to programme funds from several different accounts for various programmes in Pakistan,” the spokesman added. Funding was notified to Congress following a rigorous planning process over multiple months, to ensure funding was in line with both US and Pakistani interests, and would deliver important results for both countries, he said, adding that final notification occurred throughout the summer to allow time for all appropriate Congressional committees to be briefed and approved before the end of the fiscal year.

“While this is part of a long process of restarting security assistance cooperation after implementation was slowed during the bilateral challenges of 2011 and 2012, civilian assistance has continued uninterrupted throughout,” he pointed out. “We continue to request and receive approximately $1 billion a year in assistance for Pakistan, making it one of America’s largest recipients of foreign assistance, a sign of our long-term partnership and commitment”, the spokesperson added.

He added that US civilian assistance to Pakistan has delivered real results on the issues most important to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and all Pakistanis for cooperation in energy, education, and economic growth.

About the Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB), the spokesperson said that the $7.5 billion envisioned under the KLB authorisation will take longer to allocate and disburse than the five-year period originally envisioned. This does not diminish our long-term commitment to the development of Pakistan’s civilian institutions, he added. About the recently disbursed $322 million in Coalition Support Funds (CSF), he said that on October 16, the United States government disbursed $322 million in CSF to Pakistan for the period of July 2012 through September 2012.

He pointed out that the CSF disbursement is a routine step in reimbursing Pakistan for support provided and is a positive sign of cooperation on our shared national security priorities. In December 2012 the United States government reimbursed Pakistan for operations for the period of June-November 2011, he said, adding that the reimbursement was in the amount of $688 million.

In July 2012, he said the United States government reimbursed Pakistan for operations for the period of July 2010-May 2011 and the reimbursement was in the amount of $1.118 billion. The spokesperson further said that Pakistan has received over $10 billion since 2001.

Source: Business Recorder