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U.S. proposes $2 billion security package for Pakistan

By Laurie Ure, CNN National Security Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The aid is aimed at fighting extremists taking refuge along the Afghan border
  • The five-year package must go before Congress for approval
  • Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi: "We are determined to win this fight"

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration announced a $2 billion, multiyear security assistance package Friday to help Pakistan fight extremists taking refuge in safe havens along its border with Afghanistan.

The five-year package would pay for military hardware and equipment Pakistan needs for the counterinsurgency fight, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. It is subject to congressional approval, and complements the $7.5 billion in civilian projects approved by Congress last year.

"The United States has no stronger partner when it comes to counterterrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both than Pakistan," Clinton said.

She made the announcement at the opening of the U.S.-Pakistan Plenary Session at the State Department, alongside Pakistan's foreign minister, Mahmood Qureshi.

The aid would extend from 2012 to 2017. It comes on the heels of a White House report sent to Congress earlier this month that used unusually tough language suggesting Pakistan is not doing nearly enough to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda, despite repeated Obama administration statements that Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants.

Qureshi said the United States should not dismiss Pakistan's contributions, and insisted that suggestions that Pakistan's efforts in the war on terror are half-hearted are unfounded.

"Nearly 7.000 of our valiant law enforcement officials have perished in this fight," Qureshi said. "We do not know what greater evidence to offer than the blood of our people. Madam Secretary, we are determined to win this fight."

Some elements of the Pakistani military would be excluded from the aid package because of human rights concerns, the State Department's spokesman said later Friday.

The exclusions are in keeping with congressional requirements that no military units about which there are human rights concerns can benefit from any U.S. military aid, P.J. Crowley said at a news conference.

"A relatively small number" of units would be excluded, Crowley said.

Tensions between the United States and Pakistan rose in recent weeks after increased American drone attacks over the Afghan-Pakistani border, one of which killed two Pakistani border guards. Pakistan authorities responded by closing key coalition supply routes into Afghanistan.

The United States has since apologized for the incident, and the routes have reopened.

Pakistan has long claimed its military is geared toward defending itself against threats from countries like India, and does not have the kind of equipment it needs to fight insurgents. U.S. officials said they recognize Pakistan's current military hardware is not perfectly suited to such operations, but made clear the new aid must be directed toward fighting extremists rather than India.

U.S. officials acknowledge the Pakistani military is stretched thin since this summer's devastating floods, and has had to divert resources from the fight against extremists to conduct relief efforts. They hope the new security assistance will address the military's resource limitations so Pakistan can redouble efforts to go after militants.

CNN Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report.