New aid will improve Pak's anti-terror capabilities: Pentagon

New aid will improve Pak's anti-terror capabilities: Pentagon

"We have always said that Pakistanis have the ability to conduct those operations, but it will be done at a time and place of their choosing," Pentagon spokesman Lt David Lapan told reporters.

Lapan was responding to questions about reports that the US will announce a security assistance package totalling as much as USD 2 billion over the next five years to help Pakistan fight terrorism on its border with Afghanistan.It is all in improving their capabilities. It is not that they do not have capabilities, but continuing to improve capabilities across the force," Lapan said.

"The Secretary (of Defence) said in the past that they (Pakistan) are the ones with foot on the accelerator. They have to decide what is most appropriate, but it is not for lack of capabilities," the Pentagon spokesman said.

Lapan said that Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would meet Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the Pentagon tomorrow.

The joint Defence Working Group of the two countries would also hold meetings at the Pentagon, he said. "Focus of those discussions will be flood relief, Pakistan-US counter insurgent efforts in our respective areas and follow up on our defence consultative group discussions."

The proposed aid, news reports said, will help Pakistan purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept communications. The USD 2 billion package is on top of billions of dollars that the US has already given to Pakistan in military aid and a USD 7.5 billion aid package over five years in non-military counter-terrorism assistance approved by Congress last year.

Meanwhile, 'The Wall Street Journal' reported today there is increasing US frustration with Pakistan over what they see as Islamabad's unwillingness to mount a campaign against militants who have havens in North Waziristan and Balochistan.

North Waziristan is the main base for operations for the Haqqani network of Taliban that frequently attacks US forces in eastern Afghanistan and has close ties with Al- Qaeda, which also takes refuge in the area. Leaders of the Afghan-Taliban are based in Balochistan.

"The new military aid ... would pay for equipment Pakistan can use for counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations. US officials say they hope the new aid could effectively eliminate Pakistan's objections that it doesn't have the equipment needed to launch more operations in tribal areas," the daily said.

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