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US Senators want accountability of aid to Pakistan

US Senators want accountability of aid to Pakistan

Author: PTI
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 2, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/173303/US-Senators-want-accountability-of-aid-to-Pakistan.html

Several American Senators have sought assurance from the Obama Administration that nearly USD 500 million financial aid being doled out to Pakistan would not be used against India as has happened in the past.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates went to the Capitol Hill seeking immediate approval of the Administration's proposal to give money to Pakistan to successfully fight out the terrorists, Senators raised questions over the seriousness by the Pakistani establishment on this issue.

Appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Clinton and Gates were at pains to explain things are a bit different this time and tried to convince the Senators that the Obama Administration would make sure that mistakes of the Bush era are not repeated when the fresh lot of civilian and military aid is given to Pakistan.

When Gates sought approval of USD 400 million, Senator Mark Pryor said there has been no accountability of the money given to Pakistan in the past.

"My belief is that they've been taking at least some of our money, maybe most or all of our money, and actually moving it over to the eastern side of their country, using it to beef up their defences, et cetera, against India rather than helping in the international effort that we wanted them to help on in the other parts of their country," he said. "What sort of accountability will you put on this money in Pakistan to make sure that it is spent in accordance with the United States' purpose?" Pryor asked.

Gates responded that the coalition support funds are all reimbursements of the Pakistanis wherein they make a claim to the US, which is reviewed by defence office in the US embassy in Islamabad, then by Central Command, followed by the comptroller at Defence Department before the reimbursement is provided.

"On the Pakistan counterinsurgency Capability Fund, these are funds that we will be applying directly to border security, to training. The money that we will be allocating for this will be for things we can see and that we can document where that money has gone.

"So I think it's a very different kind of thing in the sense that it's not a reimbursement, but it is for training and equipping of the security forces and related counterinsurgency strategies," he argued.

"Secretary Clinton, recently the Taliban came within 60 miles of Pakistan's capital. Now, if India's military was 60 miles from Pakistan, the capital of Pakistan, the entire country would have been on a total war footing. But as you remarked, Secretary Clinton, many in Pakistan seemed unthreatened by the idea of the Taliban imposing Sharia law on the country because they're so unhappy with their own government," said Senator Kohl. "So have the recent gains by the Taliban changed the views of the
Pakistanis about how dangerous the Taliban are? Does the Pakistan people now see the Taliban as a real threat to their way of life and not just a thorn in the side of the United States?" Kohl Herb asked.

Clinton responded by saying that the Obama Administration now thinks that both civilian and military leadership in Pakistan is demonstrating much greater concern about the encroachment by Taliban elements.

"So we believe that we're getting a much more thoughtful response and actions to follow. It was heartening to see the military sent in to Buner and to begin to try to push the Taliban advance back," Clinton said.

Arguing that both the Government and the Army has "lost the will, or seems to have lost the will" to fight even for their own country, Senator Richard Shelby asked how does the Administration plans to help them?

"Because we've been helping them about eight years now with a lot of money, and I think it was necessary, but they don't even have control of a lot of their territory. They seem to be losing territory day after day," the Senator said.

Gates said the Pakistani government has not seen what has been going on in the western part of Pakistan as an existential threat. "Their view has been since their inception that India was the principal threat to Pakistan's continued existence," he said.

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