US Sets Up Audit Office To Monitor Corrupt Pakistan, Withholds $400m
Posted by jagoindia on March 4, 2010
US raises doubt over Pak billing, withholds $400m
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Mar 4, 2010
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is setting up an audit office in Pakistan to monitor the huge American aid flow running into billions after discovering Islamabad was ripping off hundreds of millions of American tax-payer dollars through fraud and falsification.
In the latest instance of Washington’s profound distrust of Pakistan despite public noises to the contrary, the Obama administration has rejected claims amounting to around $400 million — almost a third of the $1.4 billion Islamabad billed Washington as Coalition Support Funds (CSF) — causing much bitterness in Pakistani government circles.
The CSF was created after 9/11 to reimburse purported US allies for their expenses in the war on terror. But Pakistan has been the largest beneficiary of the scheme as it has billed Washington even for its own ongoing war in the frontier region.
But auditors and the Congress have questioned Pakistan’s billing practice and insisted on a tighter scrutiny of the claims. US insistence that a team of auditors visit Pakistan to monitor the costs and billing led to a spat lasting months in which Islamabad denied visas to the US team and Washington withheld payment for 2008.
The issue was finally resolved some weeks back after Pakistan allowed a limited number of auditors to come in. It now turns out that Washington has cleared only $997 million, rejecting $400 million on grounds like over-billing.
But there is an alternative narrative in some quarters in Washington and New Delhi, which is that the US aid is leaving Pakistan’s military budget free to be used against India.
The US has announced that it is going to deliver 1000 laser-guided MK-82 bomb kits to Pakistan to enable it “strike insurgent targets with greater precision”. Washington is also slated to supply Pakistan 18 new F-16 fighter jets later this summer. Some experts feel they are largely useless in the war against terrorists and Pakistan has India-specific use for them.