Friday, April 03, 2009  

US Senate okays $4bn increase in aid to Pakistan
* Pentagon seeks $3bn in military aid over next five years
* Money will be used to train and equip Pakistan Army

WASHINGTON: The US Senate voted on Wednesday to boost aid to Pakistan by $4 
billion next year.

As the US lawmakers continued work on a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint for the 
upcoming fiscal year, Senator John Kerry, a Democrat, won adoption of a $4 
billion increase next year in aid to Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror.

Earlier, the Associated Press had reported that the Obama administration plans 
to seek as much as $3 billion over the next five years to train and equip 
Pakistan's military and is considering sending 10,000 more troops to battle the 
Taliban in Afghanistan.

In outlining the spending programme publicly for the first time, defence 
officials told the Senate Armed Services Committee it is critical to train and 
equip the Pakistanis so they have the skills and will to fight. 

With the administration's backing, their bill would provide $1.5 billion next 
year, linked to Pakistan's counterterror and democracy-building efforts, 
officials said.

Defence and other administration officials spoke about the spending plans on 
condition of anonymity because the specific budget requests have not been 

Also on Wednesday, senators questioned Gen David Petraeus, who heads the US 
Central Command, and Undersecretary Michele Flournoy over the possible 
deployment of 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Petraeus said he had forwarded the proposed increase to the Pentagon. That plan 
could mean stationing almost 80,000 American forces in the country by next 
year. Currently 38,000 US troops are in Afghanistan.

Lawmakers asked why the extra brigade and headquarters unit requested by Gen 
David McKiernan had not yet been approved by President Barack Obama.

Flournoy said Obama is aware of the request, but was told he does not have to 
consider it until late this year because the additional troops will not be 
needed until next year. agencies

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