Too few controls on US aid money to Pakistan: Officials

December 24th, 2007 - 6:06 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, Dec 24 (ANI): American officials have acknowledged that there are too few controls over how US aid money of over five billion dollars was spent in a failed attempt by the Pakistan Army to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Senior Bush Administration and military officials believed that much of the US aid money was not making its way to frontline Pakistani units. The money received in aid has been diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India, not al Qaeda or the Taliban, the officials said.
Pakistan in reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs has claimed from the US tens of millions of dollars, they added.
A senior American military official who reviewed the programme said that he believed that there is exaggeration and inflation in Pakistani requests for reimbursement.
“Then, I point back to the United States and say we didn’t have to give them money this way,” the International Herald Tribune quoted the official, as saying.
However, Pakistani officials deny any exaggeration in demands, and say that they are incensed at what they see as American ingratitude for Pakistani counter terrorism efforts that have left about 1,000 Pakistani soldiers and police officers dead.
The five billion dollars was provided in form of Coalition Support Funds, which reimburses Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism.
Under a separate programme, Pakistan receives 300 million dollars per year in traditional American military financing that pays for equipment and training.
Musharraf has time and again has been charged by his civilian opponents of using the aid money to prop up his government. One European diplomat in Islamabad said that the US should have been more cautious with its aid.
“I wonder if the Americans have not been taken for a ride,” said the diplomat.
US lawmakers on Thursday voted to put restrictions on the 300 million dollars in military financing, and withheld 50 million dollars of that money until Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certifies that Islamabad is restoring democratic rights since Musharraf lifted emergency on December 16.
Any new conditions in American aid could have a major effect on relations between the US and Pakistan. Pakistan’s military relies on Washington for roughly a quarter of its entire four billion dollar budget.
American and Pakistani officials acknowledged that they had never agreed on the strategic goals that should drive how the money was spent, or how the Pakistanis would prove that they were performing up to American expectations. (ANI)

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