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U.S. aid to Pakistan of over $10 bln is questioned
February 26, 2007 / 11:45 PM / in 11 years

U.S. aid to Pakistan of over $10 bln is questioned

Inserts "per month" in final paragraph to show that Pakistan sought and received $100 million per month in U.S. reimbursements for troop operations.

By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - The United States has given Pakistan more than $10 billion in the five years since the Sept. 11 attacks but there is little accountability for how the money is spent and it has afforded Washington little leverage over Islamabad, researchers said on Monday.

A report by two experts with the Center for Strategic and International Studies has highlighted doubts about the effectiveness of the Bush administration’s strategy of enlisting Pakistan as a front-line ally in trying to combat al Qaeda and resurgent Taliban militants.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday to urge Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to take tougher action against militants on his side of the lawless border, where U.S. commanders say radical fighters are sheltering and training.

The U.S. strategy "has forestalled disaster for five-plus years but there is no Plan B and the costs of crisis in Pakistan are too great to live without workable options." Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet wrote in an article for the spring issue of The Washington Quarterly magazine.

" is worth asking whether U.S. policy has reached its limits and if it is now being guided more by inertia than strategy. Washington’s alliance with (Pakistani President Pervez) Musharraf may have run its course."

Cheney’s visit came as The New York Times reported that President George W. Bush has decided to send "an unusually tough message" to Musharraf that Congress would cut aid if he did not do more to combat extremists.

The House of Representatives recently adopted a bill requiring Bush to certify Pakistan is making "all possible efforts" to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its control as a condition of continued U.S. military aid.

The Senate could recommend a legislative proposal as early as this week. Increasing and reorienting U.S. aid to Pakistan is under consideration, as well as a cutback.

"We’re not going to get anywhere by simply saying, ‘let’s do exactly what we’re doing for the last six years’ and hope the outcome will be different," said a Senate aide said.

The CSIS report said the United States had given Pakistan more than $10 billion in military, economic and development assistance since Sept. 11 and perhaps even more in covert intelligence and military aid.

Still, "Washington finds itself with relatively little leverage to influence events in Pakistan," the report said.

Cohen and Chollet said "there is little accountability in how Pakistan spends U.S. money" and many key officials in various government agencies do not know the full extent of assistance provided.

The army is Pakistan’s dominant institution and receives most of the U.S. aid, reflecting an approach heavily weighted toward short-term military cooperation with little emphasis on ensuring Pakistan’s long-term stability, they said.

Even when a cease-fire along the border was in place between June and September last year, Pakistan sought and received $100 million per month in U.S. reimbursements for troop operations "raising questions about what they are being reimbursed for," said South Asia expert Alan Kronstadt of the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service.

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