Washington: While the Obama administration prepares to start the flow of billions of dollars to Pakistan promised under the Kerry Lugar bill, a top US official has raised several concerns warning over misuse of a significant portion of the aid.
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, fears that a much larger portion of the fund could end up in accounts of the corrupt elite of Pakistan.
In a letter to Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kerry expressed fear that the aid, 50 per cent of which would go directly to the Pakistan government or local partners, would be spent poorly.
“The potential for misuse is significant enough to raise warning flags about the pace of funnelling funds through institutions without a strong track record of transparent, accountable, and effective money management or significant experience in the successful delivery of projects,” The News quoted Kerry, as saying in his letter.
The seven-page letter is divided under various headlines such as ‘Leverage and Sustainability’, ‘Transparency’, ‘Accountability’, ‘Priorities’, ‘Visibility’ and ‘Public Diplomacy’.
Kerry pointed out that the administration should be as transparent and specific as possible about how US funds will be spent in Pakistan.
“To date, this process is still largely opaque to the broader public, including our Pakistani friends and partners. This lack of transparency can generate suspicion and distrust,” Kerry wrote under the heading-‘Transparency’.
He also suggested that the Pakistani civil society should be engaged in monitoring the use of funds, while expressing fears that the money may not only be misused, but siphoned off by the ‘corrupt elite.’
“Channelling so much of the money through untested institutions so quickly could serve to confirm these suspicions,” the letter stated under the ‘Accountability’ heading.