US Aid to Pakistan – Corruption becoming a hurdle in implementation

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In its new report on US aid to Pakistan, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the public policy wing of Congress, has cited corruption, lack of transparency, certification by the US government on Pakistan’s requirements to act against terrorist groups and a lack of economic reforms as some of the biggest hurdles in the implementation of US aid to Pakistan.

According to the report, the Obama administration has asked for $2,965 million for fiscal year 2012 for aid to Pakistan. Of $2,965 million, nearly 46 per cent is for economic assistance, and 54 per cent for security assistance.

The report highlights various categories that the Obama administration has requested money for, including the Economic Support Fund for $1,360 million and other sectors such as humanitarian aid, health and education services and governance.

In military aid, the US government has requested $350 million for foreign military financing (FMF), $5 million for international military education and training and $23.4 million for nonproliferation, counterterrorism, demining, and related programmes (NADR).

A key issue highlighted in the report is the conditions on US aid to Pakistan which are applicable on security-related assistance and arms transfers. According to the US law, the secretary of state has to annually certify that Pakistan is cooperating with the US to dismantle networks of nuclear proliferation and provide information to the US about any individuals involved in such networks. Additionally, Pakistan has to demonstrate “sustained commitment and significant efforts in combating terrorist groups”, including “ceasing support, by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against the US or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighbouring countries”.

Groups such as al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad must also be prevented against carrying out attacks in neighbouring countries. While US Secretary of State Hillary Hilary Clinton certified to Congress in March 2011 that Pakistan was fulfilling these requirements, the report highlights that the certification has been met with scepticism among Congressmen, especially in light of Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.

The CSR report cites that $8.9 billion has been disbursed to Pakistan as of May 2011 in the Coalition Support Funds thus far. The report also highlights Pakistan’s purchases of F-16 fighter jets and armaments out of its own pocket, in addition to those purchased with US aid grants.

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