Report finds massive loopholes in accountability of US anti-terror funds to Pak

June 25th, 2008 - 2:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington , June 25 (ANI): A fresh report prepared by the US Congress Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed that over the past four years the Bush administration paid Pakistan more than two billion dollars, without obtaining adequate proof supporting the Pakistani governments reimbursement claims. It was not ascertained whether the funds were used for their intended purpose, viz constructing roads or bunkers, or other establishing logistical support to help the US fight global war on terror, said the GAO report.

Having received 5.5 billion dollars of the nearly seven billion dollars distributed to 27 countries over the past six years, Pakistan is the largest recipient of Coalition Support Funds as part of a counterterrorism effort the Bush administration launched in 2001, said the report.

The report, prepared by the General Accounting Office (GAO), found that more than a third of US funds provided Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks were subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud.

Only this week the US cleared a payment of 373 million dollars to Pakistan for claims from 2007, reported the Washington Post.

According to the report, the Pentagon paid about 20 million dollars for army road construction and 15 million dollars to build bunkers in Pakistan , but there was no evidence that the roads or bunkers were ever constructed.

Similarly, Islamabad billed Washington 200 million dollars for an air defense radar system that may not have met a US condition, viz reimbursement cover combat or logistical costs supporting US military operations against terrorism beyond what a country would spend on its own needs.

Reacting to the flaws in reimbursing Pakistanis claims, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with American taxpayers’ wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges. How hard would it have been to confirm that a road we paid 15 million dollars for was ever built? It is appalling that the Defense Department did not send any embassy officials working in Pakistan to verify these enormous costs. Washington should stop pouring money into a black hole.

But, in response to the revelations, the Defense Department said that the GAO failed to adequately acknowledge Pakistan ’s significant contribution to fighting terrorism or the flexibility required in contingency environments.

The report was the subject of a heated hearing yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs. Subcommittee chairman John F. Tierney said: The more I learn about U.S. Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan, the more I am troubled: first, in terms of waste, fraud, and abuse of a huge amount of U.S. taxpayer funds; second, about the program’s failure to achieve vital U.S. security objectives; and third, about the program’s incompatibility with a long-term strategic partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Tierney said that the US must reevaluate the program and reallocate funding to enhance Pakistan ’s counterinsurgency capabilities and extend the government’s control over restive tribal areas along the Afghan border. (ANI)

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