WASHINGTON - The United States said Tuesday that American civilian assistance continued to flow into Pakistan even during the closure of NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, as it pledged to build a ‘strong, mutually respectful’ bilateral relationship.

“We consider bilateral US civilian assistance to be an important component of that relationship and believe it can help Pakistan become a more prosperous, stable, and democratic state, which serves the national interests of both the United States and Pakistan,” the State Department said.

Responding to a question about US aid to Pakistan, the Department’s Office of Spokesperson said “Civilian assistance to Pakistan has been ongoing throughout the closure of the NATO supply lines and has continued after their opening.”

While figures for this fiscal year are not yet available, since the passage of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation in October 2009, the US government has disbursed $2.8 billion in civilian assistance, including approximately $1 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance, the Department said.

“Our non-humanitarian civilian assistance funds are spent in five priority sectors: energy, economic growth, stabilisation of vulnerable areas, education, and health.

Notably, in 2011 the people of the United States supported the construction of 210 kilometres of road in FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, funded the world’s largest Fulbright exchange programme, and sponsored initiatives promoting private sector growth and civil society development in Pakistan.”