Australia doubles counter-terrorism training slots for Pakistani Army


Islamabad : Australia is to double to 140 the number of counter-terrorism training slots it provides to the Pakistani Army besides helping in the reconstruction of the war-torn Malakand division in the country’s restive northwest, it was announced here Monday.

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This will make Australia the second biggest provider of military training to the Pakistani army apart from the United States.

Australia would also create defence post-graduate scholarships for Pakistani Army officers and expand the strategic dialogue between the two countries, a statement issued by the Australian High Commission here said.

This apart, an Australia-Pakistan Development Partnership would be established to focus on health reform, reconstruction of the Malakand region, democratic governance and economic reform, as well as providing 100 agricultural scholarships, the statement said.

There would also be regular meetings of the Australia-Pakistan Joint Trade Committee to support closer business links, the statement added.

The decisions were taken at last week’s Friends of Democratic Pakistan Summit in New York that was called to secure international pledges to support the country’s development, the statement said.

“The Australian government has significantly increased its engagement with Pakistan over the past twenty months, including through increased defence and law enforcement cooperation; doubling development assistance to $120 million over the next two years; contributing $23 million in humanitarian assistance since August 2008; and working actively to expand bilateral trade and investment,” Online news agency reported.

“Leaders reinforced their support for Pakistan’s efforts against violent and militant extremism and endorsed plans for the reconstruction of the Malakand region. The summit endorsed the establishment of a multi-donor trust fund for Pakistan’s border areas, to be administered by the World Bank,” the agency added.