Dec 3, 2019, 6:32 PM
Journalist ID: 2053
News Code: 83579550
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Australia to end 70 years old aid to Pakistan

Islamabad, Dec 3, IRNA -- Pakistani media in their reports on Tuesday said that the Australian government under Prime Minister Scott John Morrison has decided to end 70 years old bilateral aid to Pakistan.

According to the reports, the aid includes support for successful programs helping poor women and girls, as funds for development assistance are diverted to the Pacific.

Australia has a 70-year history of providing aid to Pakistan but will end all government-to-government development assistance in 2020-21, the latest aid program performance report on Pakistan reveals.

Report says funding in Australia’s overall aid program has been redirected to support new initiatives in immediate Pacific region.

This has reduced bilateral aid to Pakistan from $39.2 million in 2018-19 to $19 million in 2019-20 and funding for bilateral programs will fully cease in 2020-21.

A key objective of Australia’s aid to Pakistan has been assisting women and girls with a focus on education, increased access to quality reproductive health and gender-based anti-violence services.

Australia’s overall foreign aid budget has been slashed by 27 percent since 2013.

Despite those cuts, the Morrison government has pledged an Australian step-up in the Pacific and aid spending in that region was increased to a record $1.4 billion in 2019-20. The policy shift came amid fears of growing Chinese influence on Australia's doorstep.

The government's decision to end bilateral aid to Pakistan is a marked shift from its priorities in 2015, when an official aid investment plan said Australia has strong interests in Pakistan because of its size and strategic position in the South Asia region.

Pakistan will continue to receive a small amount of Australian aid through regionally and globally funded programs such as scholarships to study at Australian universities.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australia "will continue to work with Pakistan on areas of shared interest, including through trade and investment, community links, defence cooperation, human rights and gender equality, and regional security.”

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