Videos: Attack on U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
The United States has long suspected that much of the billions of dollars it has sent Pakistan to battle militants has been diverted to the domestic economy and other causes, such as fighting India.
Now the scope and longevity of the misuse is becoming clear: Between 2002 and 2008, while Al-Qaida regrouped, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion in American aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, two army generals tell The Associated Press.
Concerns on the use of the funds have been raised by different groups and individuals from time to time but till now no concrete step has been taken to stop the misuse. Even as the US economy is itself under pressure especially with the unemployment rate peaking at 9.5% in September 2009 Congress has already cleared a bill to triple the funding to Pakistan.
US Unemployment Data (January 1990 – September 2009)
“We don’t have a mechanism for tracking the money after we have given it to them,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Wright said in a telephone interview. The extent of problem becomes more visible when the issue of how Al-Qaida regrouped is added to the scene. Generals and ministers of the Pakistan explain how diversion and siphoning of funds affect the army which was actually fighting from it’s own resources in spite dedicated US funds:
Generals and ministers say the diversion of the money hurt the military in very real ways:
- Helicopters critical to the battle in rugged border regions were not available. At one point in 2007, more than 200 soldiers were trapped by insurgents in the tribal regions without a helicopter lift to rescue them.
- The limited night vision equipment given to the army was taken away every three months for inventory and returned three weeks later.
- Equipment was broken, and training was lacking. It was not until 2007 that money was given to the Frontier Corps, the front-line force, for training.
Retired Gen. Mahmud Durrani, who was Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. under Musharraf’s regime said that “Pakistan insisted and America agreed. Pakistan said we also have a threat from other sources,” referring to India, “and we have to strengthen our overall capacity. The money was used to buy and support capability against India.“
As US army is still under attack in Afghanistan and the economy is under pressure maybe it’s time to take stock. A minister in Musharraf’s government, Daniyal Aziz said he had warned U.S. officials that the money they were giving his government was being misused, but to no avail.
“They both deserved each other, Musharraf and the Americans,“ he (Aziz) said.