Daily Revolt

December 24, 2007

U.S. Officials See Waste in Pakistan Aid

Aide to Pakistan was the price to payed by Bush for Musharraf's help in fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda. Looking back there is some question whether that investment was a good one. That country lately has been more trouble, and has useless in helping stop the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan:
After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. The strategy to improve the Pakistani military, they said, needs to be completely revamped.

In interviews in Islamabad and Washington, Bush administration and military officials said they believed that much of the American money was not making its way to frontline Pakistani units. Money has been diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the officials said, adding that the United States has paid tens of millions of dollars in inflated Pakistani reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs.

“I personally believe there is exaggeration and inflation,” said a senior American military official who has reviewed the program, referring to Pakistani requests for reimbursement. “Then, I point back to the United States and say we didn’t have to give them money this way.”

It would be a good question to ask as to how much of that money is in some Swiss bank account to benefit the Pakistani dictator:
Civilian opponents of President Pervez Musharraf say he used the reimbursements to prop up his government. One European diplomat in Islamabad said the United States should have been more cautious with its aid.

“I wonder if the Americans have not been taken for a ride,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

[...]In interviews, 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.

Another reason why the money has been wasted:
The program’s failures appear to be a sweeping setback for the administration as it approaches its final year in office. American intelligence officials say they believe that Mr. Bush is likely to leave office in January 2009 with the Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden still at large.

“We haven’t had a good lead on his exact whereabouts in two years,” another senior American military official lamented recently.

Where is that money going if its not being used to fight the insurgents?:
Pakistani officials say the Coalition Support Funds money goes into the national treasury to repay the government for money already spent on 100,000 troops deployed in the tribal areas. But American military officials say the funds do not reach the men who need it. That is especially the case for helicopter maintenance and poorly equipped Frontier Corps units.

During a recent visit to the border, an American official found members of the Frontier Corps “standing there in the snow in sandals,” according to the official. Several were wearing World War I-era pith helmets and carrying barely functional Kalashnikov rifles with just 10 rounds of ammunition apiece.

[...]“The situation in the tribal areas seems to be getting worse, not better, and that’s despite a billion dollars in aid,” said Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat on the Armed Services Committee who visited Pakistan in fall 2006. “Just pouring the money in and asking them to do this is not producing the results that we need.”

Ripe conditions for corruption and mismanagement:
For years, how money from the Coalition Support Funds was disbursed to the Pakistani government was veiled in secrecy. The size and scope of the payments to Pakistan was held so closely that one senior American military officer in Afghanistan said that he did not know that the administration was spending $1 billion a year until he attended a meeting in Islamabad in 2006.

[...]But by mid-2007, the $1 billion-a-year figure became public, largely because of the objections of some military officials and defense experts who said that during an ill-fated peace treaty between the military and militants in the tribal areas in 2005 and 2006, the money kept flowing. Pakistan continued to submit receipts for reimbursement, even though Pakistani troops had stopped fighting.

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