Pak to lose 150 mn dollar per month after new US conditions on aid

December 20th, 2007 - 1:36 pm ICT by admin  

Karachi, Dec 20 (ANI): Pakistan is likely to lose between 1.2 billion dollars to 1.5 billion dollars a year, or up to 150 million dollars a month because of a congressional legislation, which places certain conditions on Washingtons financial assistance to Islamabad.
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill 2008 passed by the US Congress puts a new ban on cash transfers should Islamabad not get a certificate from the US State Department on democracy-related issues.
The House voted on the bill, but the Senate added another 40 billion-dollars for the Iraq war pushing the total budget to 555 billion dollars. President George Bush is expected to sign the Bill without initiating many changes in it.
While many Pakistanis think that the new conditions will have a minor impact on about 50 million-dollars in military aid, the real implication is in the fine print, which says that no cash payments would be made.
This will have a devastating effect on the Pakistan Army, which has been receiving almost 1.5 billion dollars a year since 2002 under the “Coalition Support Fund (CSF)” which reimburses all expenses incurred by Pakistan to fight the war on terror.
According to experts in Washington, in addition to the 3.5 billion-dollars in economic and military aid provided under the multi-year aid package, Pakistan has received an additional 7.5 billion-dollar to 9.5 billion dollar in CSF since 2002.
The House had added several conditions for military aid to Pakistan, including a tough set of democracy-related benchmarks which require an independent judiciary, a free press, release of political prisoners, restoration of Constitutional rights and many more.
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill will extend conditionality to all aid to Pakistan that qualifies as cash transfer and the process of certification etc will either slow down CSF payments or get them suspended. CSF payments average up to 150 million dollars per month.
According to experts the CSF are used to reimburse coalition countries, primarily Pakistan and Jordan, for logistical, military, and other expenses incurred in supporting US military operations.
These payments are made to cooperating nations in amounts as determined by the Secretary of Defence. Reimbursing coalition partners helps to ensure their contributions yield the maximum benefit to the overall operations of US military forces fighting terrorism worldwide.
Reimbursing coalition contributions is critical to enabling forces from these countries to remain in theater and provide direct support to US military operations, US experts say.
These funds primarily finance continued payments to Pakistan and Jordan for support to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to a finding of the Center for Public Integritys International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), US military aid to Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks includes almost five billion dollar in CSF.
Pakistan also benefited from other funding mechanisms set up in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks. In the three years after the attacks, Pakistan was the third-largest recipient of the Pentagons new Regional Defecse Counter terrorism Fellowship Programme, designed to train foreign forces in counter terrorism techniques.
ICIJs data show that when all US programmess are combined, Pakistans increase in US aid in the three years after 9/11 is a stunning 50,000 per cent, growing from just nine million dollars in the three years before the attacks to nearly 4.7 billion dollars in the three years after.
In the process, Pakistan has become the No. 3 recipient of US military training and assistance, trailing only longtime leaders Israel and Egypt, The News reported.
Craig Cohen, co-author of a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies study on US aid to Pakistan, asked rhetorically whether CSF money is “intended to yield some sort of specific action on the part of the government,” adding, “If so, theres clearly no oversight.”
A former US official previously based in Pakistan told ICIJ that, “Right from the beginning it was very difficult to pin down what the costs were and how they were computed. Initially there were very round numbers reported. Now figures are coming out with more specificity. Whether or not they are inflated, its difficult to get a handle on that.” (ANI)

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