Follow the money: Should the US cut aid to Pakistan?
Secretary of State Clinton said today that the US wants 'long-term' security ties with Pakistan. But in the wake of the bin Laden raid, some Americans and Pakistanis alike want to downgrade ties – and aid.
New Delhi; and Islamabad, Pakistan
Americans and Pakistanis are putting pressure on their governments to downgrade bilateral relations following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.Skip to next paragraph
At Pakistan's request, the US is pulling out some of its soldiers from the country. With only 200 soldiers on the ground, the cuts are mostly a symbolic effort aimed at easing Pakistani frustration. Today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped in to calm tensions by announcing the US wants "long-term" security ties with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, responding to popular American anger, Congress is threatening substantial cuts to US aid and Pakistani populists are saying good riddance. Beyond the angry rhetoric on aid, experts see a mismatch between US hopes and where the dollars have gone.
How much US money is in Pakistan?
The US has provided $20.7 billion to Pakistan since 2002. A little more than two-thirds of that went to military use, the remainder to civilian.
The biggest ticket item, at $8.9 billion, is something called "Coalition Support Funds." These are reimbursements for Pakistan's military assistance in the war on terror.
The second-largest chunk, $4.8 billion, falls under "Economic Support Funds." Most of this has gone to shore up the government's budget, either as revenue or to pay off debt to the US.
Much less is spent on seemingly major US priorities: The Frontier Corps, the Pakistani force doing most of the fighting, has received $100 million. Antiterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation efforts: $90 million.
"One of the things we should be doing is training the police, but we're not doing it.... Pakistanis are not letting us. They want the Army to do everything," says C. Christine Fair, assistant professor at Georgetown University in Washington.
What has Pakistan's Army done with the money?
The short answer is: No one quite seems to know. The US reimburses Pakistan for costs associated with the numerous military operations launched following US goading.
But the Defense Department has failed to obtain enough information to judge whether $2 billion in claims were valid, according to the Government Accountability Office. Their 2008 report found evidence of double billing or repayment for unrelated or nonexistent efforts, including $200 million for radar upgrades – even though militants have no air force that would require such radar.
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