US aid plan for Pakistan foundering: Report

Last Updated: Monday, May 2, 2011 - 21:09

New York: A generous multi-billion-dollar
aid plan that the Obama administration hoped would buttress
Pakistan`s weak civilian government and win over Pakistanis is
foundering due to corruption and incompetence in disbursal of
the money, according to a media report.

The aid programme promoted by Senator John Kerry,
chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, promised Pakistan
USD 7.5 billion over five years, much of it delivered through
the civilian government.

"But so inadequate is Pakistan`s civilian bureaucracy
and so rife are United States fears of corruption in the
government that American officials, constricted by layers of
their own rules, have struggled to find safe places to
actually invest the money available," the New York Times said.

"Instead of polishing the tarnished image of America
with a suspicious, even hostile, Pakistani public and
government, the plan has resulted in bitterness and a sense of
broken promises," it says.

In a scathing report, the Government Accountability
Office said that only USD 179.5 million of the first USD 1.5
billion of the five-year programme had been disbursed by last
December.

Energy projects that the Obama administration said
would improve electricity for households and energy-starved
industries have been placed in out-of-the-way areas, and help
for the crumbling education system has not materialised, the
report said.

The United States Agency for International
Development`s director for Pakistan, Andrew B. Sisson,
defended the pace of spending. "This is a long-term
enterprise, and building that takes time, and we`re doing
that," he said. The amount spent on projects from the USD 1.5
billion, he said, has risen to more than USD 200 million.

During a visit to Pakistan in October 2009, Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that much of the
American aid money would be devoted to "seven signature
projects."

They included the Gomal Zam Dam here in South
Waziristan, where USD 20 million helped build the spillway to
a power plant lighting one of Pakistan?s most neglected areas.

The administration said it would funnel at least 50 per
cent of the funds through the Pakistani government, rather
than using American contractors. The aim was to show America?s
commitment to the civilian government and help strengthen its
ability to deliver to its citizens, American officials said.

But the Americans have run into problems of corruption
and incompetence on the civilian side, the report said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 2, 2011 - 21:09

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