US Senators want accountability of aid to Pakistan
Several American senators have sought assurance from the Obama administration that nearly $500 million financial aid being doled out to Pakistan would not be misused, particularly not end up being used against India, as has happened in the past.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates went to the Capitol Hill seeking immediate approval of the administration's proposal to give money to Pakistan to successfully fight out the terrorists, Senators raised questions over the seriousness by the Pakistani establishment on this issue.
Appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Clinton and Gates were at pains to explain things are a bit different this time and tried to convince the Senators that the Obama Administration would make sure that mistakes of the Bush era are not repeated when the fresh lot of civilian and military aid is given to Pakistan.
When Gates sought approval of $400 million, Senator Mark Pryor said there has been no accountability of the money given to Pakistan in the past.
"My belief is that they've been taking at least some of our money, maybe most or all of our money, and actually moving it over to the eastern side of their country, using it to beef up their defences against India rather than helping in the international effort that we wanted them to help on in the other parts of their country," he said.
"What sort of accountability will you put on this money in Pakistan to make sure that it is spent in accordance with the United States' purpose?" Pryor asked.
Gates responded that the coalition support funds are all reimbursements of the Pakistanis wherein they make a claim to the US, which is reviewed by defence office in the US embassy in Islamabad, then by Central Command, followed by the comptroller at Defence Department before the reimbursement is provided.
"On the Pakistan counterinsurgency Capability Fund, these are funds that we will be applying directly to border security, to training. The money that we will be allocating for this will be for things we can see and that we can document where that money has gone.
"So I think it's a very different kind of thing in the sense that it's not a reimbursement, but it is for training and equipping of the security forces and related counterinsurgency strategies," he argued.
"Secretary Clinton, recently the Taliban came within 60 miles of Pakistan's capital. Now, if India's military was 60 miles from Pakistan, the capital of Pakistan, the entire country would have been on a total war footing. But as you remarked, Secretary Clinton, many in Pakistan seemed unthreatened by the idea of the Taliban imposing Sharia law on the country because they're so unhappy with their own government," said Senator Kohl.