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Britain`s aid to Pakistan under scrutiny

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 21:32

London: Underlining that elected politicians in Pakistan need to submit tax returns and pay tax, UK on Tuesday said its aid to country will be linked to reforms.

"We keep our programme in Pakistan under constant review, and will continue to do so after the elections. Economic reform in Pakistan, including on tax, will be critical post-election, whoever wins.

"It will be important for elected politicians to show leadership to the Pakistan electorate and a commitment to reform by submitting tax returns and paying tax due," the Department for International Development (DfID) said in a statement here.

The statement coincides with an ongoing parliamentary inquiry which was warned that the aid being channelled to the country through DfID, specifically the Benazir Income Support Programme, may be misused.

In evidence to the inquiry, Ehtisham Ahmad, a development economist and visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, said the programme`s name meant the money would be associated with the slain Pakistani Prime Minister`s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

"This is the re-election campaign of Mr Zardari, which is funded by DfID," Ahmad told the Daily Telegraph.

The DfID statement, however, insisted on the UK?s politically impartiality in Pakistan.

"Our development assistance is based on need and effectiveness, not politics. The Benazir Income Support Programme Act was unanimously passed and supported by all political parties in Pakistan," it said.

Pakistan is set to become the biggest recipient of British aid, worth around 1.4 billion pounds by 2015.

Critics such as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan have repeatedly warned that Britain`s surge in aid will not produce sustainable results.

According to him, it instead removes any incentive for the Pakistani government to introduce unpopular tax reforms.

The issue has become particularly heated as the country prepares for elections on May 11.

The biggest Opposition party, the PML-N, has said it would overhaul the current scheme and rename it the National Support Programme.

The Select Committee on International Development is due to publish its report into the UK`s aid programme in Pakistan on Thursday.


First Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 21:32

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