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Senator Kerry seeks tighter control over civilian aid to Pak

A powerful American Senator has apprehended that the massive civilian aid flowing into Pakistan would be squandered or stolen.



Washington: A powerful American Senator
has apprehended that the massive civilian aid flowing into
Pakistan would be squandered or stolen and argues that the
high level of corruption in that country would make effective
aid distribution a challenge.

The red-flag has been raised by Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a seven-page letter to Richard Holbrooke, the Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Among the Pakistani population there is already a
fear that the funds will merely enrich the corrupt elite.
Channelling so much of the money through untested institutions
so quickly could serve to confirm these suspicions," he wrote.

Dated May 25, the letter was first reported by Boston
Globe and is now widely available on the internet.

Such a strongly worded letter from a top US Senator
comes in the wake of Holbrooke`s decision to route at least 50
per cent of the aid money either through the Pakistani
Government or through the Pakistani civil society or local
non-governmental organisations.

So far the US aid money in Pakistan is mostly routed
through the American NGOs working in the country. One of the
major complaints against these US NGO is that they have a very
high overhead cost and they finally end up doing the work by
sub-contracting them through the local NGOs/workers; thus a
high fraction of the aid money is wasted in transit.

However, Kerry, who has oversight responsibilities
over the funds, believes that the Pakistani organisations are
not ready yet to effectively spend the US aid money.

"The danger is much greater than merely the possibility
of a portion of funds being poorly spent," he said.

"If significant portion of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman
funds are, for example, siphoned off to private bank accounts,
political support for continued appropriation of the money
could evaporate in Washington and Pakistan," Kerry said.

Fearing massive corruption into the US aid money to
Pakistan, Kerry in his letter has highlighted the need for
long-term development progress, more transparency and policy
reforms in key sectors like energy.

"This Administration should be as transparent and
specific as possible as how US funds will be spent in
Pakistan. To date, this process is largely opaque to the
broader public, including our Pakistani friend and partners.

This lack of transparency can generate suspicion and distrust,
defeating the core intent of the Act to help build stronger
ties with the Pakistani people," Kerry said.

The Administration will need to have to have a sound
transition plan in place so that local Pakistani institutions
are capable of handling FY 2010 funds in an accountable,
effective manner, Kerry noted.

"If significant portions of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman
funds are, for example, siphoned off to private bank accounts,
political support for continued appropriation of the money
could evaporate in Washington and Pakistan," the letter said,
adding that among the Pakistani population, there is already a
fear that the funds will merely enrich the corrupt elite.

Channelling so much money through untested
institutions so quickly could serve to confirm these
suspicions, he argued.

PTI

From Zee News

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