WASHINGTON: The US State Department is seeking funds from Congress to resume its military education and training facilities for Pakistan, says a document released on Tuesday.
In its budget requests for the fiscal year 2021, the department sought a total of $104.9 million for its International Military Education and Training (IMET) programme, informing Congress that IMET “serves as an effective means to strengthen military alliances and international coalitions critical to US national security goals and regional stability”.
Out of these $104.9 million, the department is seeking $12.7 million for training military officers from the South and Central Asian region, which includes $3.5 million for resuming this facility for Pakistan.
The budget proposal notes that IMET programmes in South and Central Asia “support the Indo-Pacific Strategy by focusing on professionalising the defence forces of regional partners, emphasising professional military education, respect for the rule of law, human rights, and civilian control of the military”.
Although the request includes the entire South and Central Asian region, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal are classified as “priority recipients”.
The Trump administration approved the resumption of military education and training facilities for Pakistan in December 2019, saying that it was doing so to “improve bilateral cooperation on shared priorities”.
The State Department administers the IMET programme, which enables Pakistan and other countries to send their officers to US institutions.
A US official later pointed out that President Donald Trump’s security assistance suspension announced in January 2018 authorised “narrow exceptions for programme that support vital US national security interests”, making room to restart some programmes with Pakistan.
“The administration has approved the resumption of IMET programme for Pakistan as one such exception, subject to Congressional approval,” the official added.
Relations between the United States and Pakistan started to strain in 2011 when Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was tracked and killed in Abbottabad by US special forces without informing Islamabad.