WASHINGTON - The United States has proposed $280 million in military assistance to Pakistan in next year’s budget, while underscoring its key role in the security and economic development of the region.Hit by the financial constraints, the Obama administration also proposed $446 million in civilian aid in 2015, which is substantially less than $703 million in 2013. “The OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) resources will support critical US activities such as sustaining close cooperation with Pakistan, ensuring the safety of Pakistani nuclear installations, working with Pakistan to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan, and promoting improved relations with India,” the State Department said in its budget document. The Obama Administration’s around $ one billion request for Pakistan in the new financial year is part of $ 46.2 billion budget for State Department and the US Agency for International Development. “FY 2015 funding for Pakistan is crucial to meeting key US strategic priorities of combating terrorism, strengthening security in both Pakistan and the region, and maintaining stability in Afghanistan post-transition,”the department said. “Pakistan will remain a key player in US counter-terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation efforts in FY 2015, as well as in our long-term objectives of economic development and stability in the region,” the State Department said in its annual budget proposals to the Congress. “Developing an enduring and collaborative relationship with an increasingly stable and prosperous Pakistan that plays a constructive role in the region will therefore continue to be a priority for the United States,” the State Department said proposing USD 100 million to Pakistan under the Economic Support Fund (ESF) for the fiscal year 2015. Given the ongoing transition in Afghanistan and continued terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets throughout Pakistan, Foreign Military Financing (FMF) is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability in its Western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders, the department said. “The USD 280 million Pakistan requests will enhance the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Air Force, and Navy’s ability to conduct Counter Insurgency (COIN) and Counter Terrorism (CT) operations against militants throughout its borders and will improve Pakistan’s ability to deter threats emanating from those areas, and encourage continued US-Pakistan military-to-military engagement,” the State Department said. The OCO supports a robust diplomatic presence and critical assistance programmes to support the government and its people following Pakistan’s first democratic transition, it added. “These funds will help facilitate increased stability and prosperity in this strategically important nation and will enable us to sustain a presence necessary to achieve essential strategic priorities of eliminating terrorism and enhancing stability in Pakistan and the region following the transition in Afghanistan,” the State Department said. “Developing an enduring and collaborative relationship with an increasingly stable and prosperous Pakistan that plays a constructive role in the region will therefore continue to be a priority for the United States,” the State Department’s stressed while justifying its request for foreign assistance in the financial year 2015 stated.The FY 2015 base funds will support the new Government of Pakistan in its reform, economic growth, and long-term stabilisation efforts and “demonstrate that the US will remain engaged in the region following the transition in Afghanistan.”“These funds will continue our long-term engagement policy that is designed to strengthen Pakistan’s civilian government and enhance its ability to respond to the economic, social, and security needs of its people.” According to the document, these resources will sustain the five-pillar strategy that includes supporting the government’s efforts to build a commercially viable energy sector, including both reforms and expanding power generation; fostering economic growth and employment; increasing long-term stability in volatile areas threatened by extremism, particularly those along the border with Afghanistan; and improving Pakistan’s ability to provide education and health care to its population.Given the ongoing transition in Afghanistan and continued terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets throughout Pakistan, the FMF is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability in its Western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders, the document said. Pakistan lies at the heart of the US counter terrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and economic integration in South and Central Asia, it said.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 06-Mar-2014 here.