US military aid to Pakistan and double talk
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat
Thursday, June 02, 2011
The US aid to Pakistan is shrouded in myth and great mystery with the actual picture hidden in blurred public statements and imprecise figures
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), the public policy research arm of the US Congress, has claimed that since FY2002-FY2010, “direct overt US aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan have amounted to $20.6 billion.”
The agency insists that security related aid disbursed to Pakistan was $14.2 billion (including $8.8 billion under the CSF) and economy related $6.4 billion. There has been criticism in the US that Pakistan’s increase in US military aid in the three years after 9/11 was a stunning 50,000 percent, growing from just $9 million in the three years before the attacks to nearly $4.7 billion in the three years after the incident
In the process, Pakistan became the top third recipient of US assistance and military training. However, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has revealed that only $6.9 billion of the Coalition Support Funding has been received. The ISPR figures are certainly more to the point.
The US Coalition Support Funds reimburse military expenditures incurred by 27 coalition partners, chiefly Pakistan, in direct support of American military operations.
However, the funds are continuously delayed or held back because of obscure accounting reasons.The verification sought from Pakistan with regard to the CSF takes lots of time and even after that a large portion of the funds are not paid and deferred.
In May 2010, the CSF outstanding payments with regard to Pakistan stood at a stunning $2 billion. The Democratic-controlled Congress has already imposed restrictions on the CSF payments to Pakistan. It has adopted implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007, whose section 1442 identifies areas of concern for US policy, including the need for Pakistan to curb the proliferation of nuclear technology, to address the presence of the Taliban and other extremist forces and to secure its borders to prevent movement of terrorists. The bill has imposed limits on foreign assistance to Pakistan, declaring that US assistance may not be approved until “the President determines and certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the government of Pakistan is making all possible efforts to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its sovereign control.”
In addition, Pakistan would be required to demonstrate that it is making significant steps towards “free and fair parliamentary elections in 2007.” The bill also requires that the president submits a report to Congress describing the long-term strategy of US engagement with Pakistan.
On the other hand, there are certain questions with regard to the US aid. For example, it is understood that some of the military aid given to Pakistan was obsolete equipment or equipment that was not required in the war on terror but was still sent to the country
At the same time, there are many strings attached to the US aid. Pakistan has known about the US unreliability and faced blocking of aid several times since the 1950s. According to Stephen Cohen, it is precisely for this reason that India recently dropped US fighter aircraft and went for the Eurofighter
Moreover, some sections in the US government have been threatening to stop altogether the US aid to Pakistan. Pakistan has been pleading with Washington to release the CSF payments, which would do away the pressure on its budget and allow it to participate in the GWOT effectively. It is time the US stopped the double talk and lifted the strings on aid to Pakistan and treated Pakistan as a reliable partner in the Global War on Terror