US aid plan for Pakistan foundering: Report
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Last Updated: Monday, May 02, 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.


First Published: Monday, May 02, 2011, 21:09

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