Efforts to improve US ties pick up momentum
WASHINGTON, July 8: The move to restore America’s relationship with Pakistan gathers pace next week as two senior Pakistani military officials arrive in Washington for talks.
Also this week, the Obama administration sends to the US Congress a proposal to release more than a billion dollars to Islamabad, diplomatic sources told Dawn.
ISI chief Lt-Gen Zahir-ul-Islam and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wyne are both expected to arrive in
Washington for talks with their US counterparts, diplomatic sources said.
The sources, however, warned that both sides were still working to remove last-minute snags, which could delay the visits.
The new ISI chief was expected to visit Washington last month but both sides decided to delay it because the dispute over the Nato supply lines had not yet been resolved.
“Now that the supplies have resumed, the drone strikes are creating new problems for Pakistan,” said a source. “Remember, the strikes are extremely unpopular in Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced this weekend that it was releasing more than a billion dollars for Pakistan from the Coalition Support Fund, which reimburses US allies for the expenses they incur in the war against terrorists.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby confirmed to the US media this weekend that the Pentagon was planning to give Pakistan $1.1 billion from the CSF.
But Pakistani diplomats in Washington say that they have not yet received an official notification from the US administration on the expected release of funds.
The Pakistani media reported earlier this week that Islamabad expected Washington to release up to $2 billion by the end of the current fiscal year.
“Now that the GLOCs (routes) are open, we intend to submit the approximately $1.1 billion in approved receipts under the Coalition Support
Fund for costs associated with past Pakistani counter-terrorism operations,” Mr Kirby told a Foreign Policy news outlet.
“Now that the GLOCs are open, we are prepared to move forward with these claims.”
He said that congressional leadership was kept in the loop during the discussions with Pakistan about reopening the supply lines. “We look forward to working closely with Congress to process these claims,” he said.The Hill, another news outlet which covers congressional activities, reported that the notification for releasing the $1.1 billion to the Pakistan military had not yet reached Capitol Hill but was expected in the coming days. After Congress receives the notification, lawmakers have 15 days to object to the release of the funds.