North Waziristan operation to cost $1. 3b, Dar tells US senator

The finance minister said that the cost of 'Operation Zarb-e-Azb', as well as taking care of the displaced persons, had so far hit $400 million and may end up being as high as $1.3 billion.



By Afzal Khan

Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 11:32 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 May 2020, 5:35 PM

Islamabad - The cost of the ongoing military offensive against the Taleban and other militant groups could go as high as $1.3 billion (Rs130 billion), Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told a visiting US legislator on Wednesday.
The minister was peaking to Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the US Senate Armed Services Committee, who was accompanied by US Ambassador Richard Olson. Dar briefed Reed and Olson on the progress made during the operations as well as their financial implications, and sought Washington's help in defraying some of the costs.
The finance minister said that the cost of 'Operation Zarb-e-Azb', as well as taking care of the displaced persons, had so far hit $400 million and may end up being as high as $1.3 billion. However, he did not provide a breakdown of the costs, and a recent statement of Fiscal Operations released by the finance ministry shows defence spending at Rs330 billion during the first six months of fiscal 2015, which is in line with spending patterns of the previous years.
Without explicitly asking for a specific amount from Washington, Dar told Senator Reed that Islamabad faced a severe financial crunch because of the operation and would welcome any international assistance. The finance minister said that the operation was a major offensive against terrorists and had the full support of the armed forces, all political parties and civil society in Pakistan.
Senator Reed appreciated Islamabad's decision to target all militant groups, including the Haqqani Network, which the US military has identified as the source of several attacks on their forces in Afghanistan. Reed also agreed that the international community should help Pakistan battle against terrorism.
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