US to offer security pact to Pakistan: NYT

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : To repair ties damaged by the American military’s tough new stance in the region, the Obama administration will offer Pakistan a multi-year security pact complete with more reliable military aid, according to the New York Times.

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The offer will be made to the Pakistani civilian and military leaders who arrive here this week for a strategic dialogue, the influential US daily said Tuesday.

Pakistan’s delegation will be led by its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, but much of the attention will be on army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is viewed by many as the most powerful man in Pakistan.

“Among the sweeteners on the table will be a multi-year security pact with Pakistan, complete with more reliable military aid – something the Pakistani military has long sought to complement the five-year, $7.5 billion package of non-military aid approved by Congress last year,” it said.

The administration will also discuss how to channel money to help Pakistan rebuild after its ruinous flood, it said.

But the American gestures come at a time of fraying patience on the part of the Obama administration, and they will carry a familiar warning, a senior American official was quoted as saying.

“If Pakistan does not intensify its efforts to crack down on militants hiding out in the tribal areas of North Waziristan, or if another terrorist plot against the United States were to emanate from Pakistani soil, the administration would find it hard to persuade Congress or the American public to keep supporting the country.”

The Pakistanis will come with a similarly mixed message. While Pakistan is grateful for the strong American support after the flood, Pakistani officials were quoted as saying, it remains frustrated by what it perceives as the slow pace of economic aid, the lack of access to American markets for Pakistani goods and the administration’s continued lack of sympathy for the country’s confrontation with India.

Another potential bone of contention is one of President Obama’s nuclear objectives: a global accord to end the production of new nuclear fuel. Pakistan has led the opposition to the accord. And without its agreement, the treaty would be basically useless, the Times said.

Qureshi blamed the US for the situation, saying Washington signed a civilian nuclear accord with India that discriminated against Pakistan. “You have disturbed the nuclear balance,” he said in a recent interview in New York, “and we have been forced to develop a new strategy.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])