The South Asia Channel

Proposed defense spending cuts include reduced funds for Afghanistan

Proposed defense spending cuts include reduced funds for Afghanistan

Event Notice: Please join the U.S. Institute of Peace TOMORROW, February 15 at 10:00 AM for the first public event in the U.S. with Ambassador Sherry Rehman, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the U.S. This conversation, moderated by Stephen J Hadley, will discuss a ‘reset’ of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship (USIP).

Money talk: The Obama administration on Monday submitted its budget for the 2013 fiscal year, requesting cuts in U.S. defense spending that will come in part from the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan and a decrease of 50% in funds meant for the training and equipping of Afghan security forces (AFPReutersMcClatchyCNNWSJ). The budget also requests that $2.4 billion be allocated to Pakistan, $800 million of which would go to Pakistan’s Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) (ETDT). However, certain funds such as the PCCF allocation and those under the Foreign Military Financing Program may only be released once the Secretary of State confirms that Pakistan is cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda and specific affiliated organizations.

A helicopter carrying four Tajik air force officers en route to deliver food to U.S. soldiers reportedly crashed in the southern Afghan province of Zabul on Saturday, killing everyone on board (AP). U.S. Army Spec. Chazray Clark died from his injuries on September 18, 2011 because unarmed medevac aircraft could not reach him during an ongoing battle, sparking debate about whether rescue personnel should be armed (AP).

Abysmal conditions

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry ordered a medical evaluation of seven detainees brought before the Supreme Court on Monday by the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as the men seemed to be in very poor health, unable to talk or walk properly (DTAFPCNNDawnET). Four of their fellow detainees have already died in custody, for which the ISI is currently under investigation. An American identified as William Charles was briefly detained at Peshawar airport on Tuesday when security officials found bullets in his suitcase, but was released because of his diplomatic immunity shortly thereafter (The NewsAPBBCReuters).

On Monday, a group of armed men attacked a checkpoint in the Nasiribad District of Balochistan, killing two security personnel (ETDT). Pakistan’s National Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution condemning a U.S. hearing on human rights violations in Balochistan held by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Islamabad, Richard Hoagland, to express their "serious concerns" over the hearing (DTDTET).

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday decided to grant the estimated 3.7 million Pakistanis living abroad the right to vote, following Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s petition to the Supreme Court late last year (ETDawn). Indian Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma visited Pakistan on Monday, and signed three agreements to ease trade restrictions between the two countries (DawnETETTelWSJ).

Back-up plans 

Faced with an indictment for contempt of court and the possible end of his political career, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is reportedly considering writing an autobiography (ET). In the book, tentatively entitled Mein Bawafe Nahi Hun (I Am Not Disloyal), Gilani would seek to showcase his commitment to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) as well as the PPP’s courage in the face of adversity.

– Jennifer Rowland