$700m to be reimbursed by US
By: Masood Haider
NEW YORK: The United States would reimburse to Pakistan some $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, in an effort to normalise support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation, the New York Times reported on Tuesday citing Pentagon officials.
The biggest proponent of putting foreign aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan on a steady footing is the man President Barack Obama is leaning towards naming as secretary of state: Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, the newspaper said.
Mr Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has frequently served as an envoy to Pakistan, including after the killing of Osama bin Laden, and was a co-author of a law that authorised about $7.5 billion of non-military assistance to Pakistan in five years.
The United States also provides about $2bn in annual security assistance, roughly half of which goes to reimburse Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism.
Until now, many of these reimbursements, called coalition support funds, have been held up, in part because of disputes with Pakistan over the Bin Laden raid, the operations of the CIA, and its decision to block supply lines into Afghanistan last year, the newspaper said.
The $688m payment — the first since this summer, covering food, ammunition and other expenses from June through November 2011 — has caused barely a ripple of protest since it was sent to Capitol Hill on Dec 7.
The absence of a reaction, American and Pakistani officials say, underscores how relations between the two countries have been gradually thawing since Pakistan reopened the Nato supply routes in July after an apology from the Obama administration for an errant American air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.