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'Pak to get $7.5bn US aid in more than 5 yrs'

world Updated: Feb 14, 2012 16:35 IST

The US would take more than five years to disburse the promised $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, and officials here attributed the deferred disbursal to budget constraints.

"The authorisation bill, the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, authorised up to $1.5 billion over five years. This was the bill that was enacted in 2010. For the first couple of years, we have requested $1.5 billion. The Congress and through the negotiation over the budget, we never got that high," a senior State Department official told reporters here.

"So given the budget constraints, given the fact that we're under caps, and the fact that we really had to look very hard at our spending, we have since decided to request something a little bit lower than the 1.5. We did the same thing last year," he said.

As against $1.5 billion per annum for five years as passed by the Congress in 2009 in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, the Obama Administration yesterday proposed $1.1 billion worth of civilian assistance to Pakistan.

In all, Pakistan has been proposed to receive $2.4 billion in the fiscal 2013 beginning October 1, this year.

Still, the Senior Administration officials conceded that given the state of relationship between the US and Pakistan, they have a tough job ahead to convince the Congress to give such a huge amount of money to Pakistan.

In 2012, the non-military assistance for Pakistan under the bill was $1 billion.

"We are at about 1.1 billion for Kerry-Lugar – for the non-military assistance programme. It just means that to get to the $7.5 billion of what we refer to as Kerry-Lugar-Berman funding, it's just going to take us a little bit longer.

"But we still have a very, very robust commitment to Pakistan," the official noted.

"So a $2.4 billion Pakistan budget, which includes those two things plus the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, is really, I think, a strong statement of support for what we're doing there," the official said.

The US official said the non-military assistance to Pakistan under Kerry Lugar bill has been hovering around that level for the last few years.

"So I'm pretty confident that that's sort of the sustained level that we're going to get if the Congress, although, this is a proposal. We're going to have a lot of negotiation to do, so we're going to make the best argument we can and we'll have to work out with the Congress ultimately what the final appropriation’s going to be," the official said.