Pakistan's finance minister on Monday dismissed as "a myth" in the United States that his country is a major recipient of tens of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, reports Reuters.
According to the news agency, Finance Minister Hafiz Shaikh told an audience in Washington that the United States had not delivered what it promised under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Law aid package, which is meant to provide $7.5 billion in civilian aid over five years.
While Shaikh said Pakistan had not yet received $300 million of a promised $1.5 billion this year, Reuters cited a recent US Government Accountability Office report as saying that while Congress had appropriated the first tranche of $1.5 billion in Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid to Pakistan in fiscal 2010, just $179.5 million of this aid had been disbursed by the end of 2010.
Ravaged by floods, war and economic turmoil, Pakistan could certainly use the money, and US aid is supposed to be the carrot to induce Islamabad to make good on its promises to fight harder against the Taliban. But the money was also promised with the condition that it be spent for the purposes it was intended, and not to finance Pakistan's military buildup for a potential confrontation with India (etc).
And that begs the question: Is the US simply incompetent in doling out funds? Or Pakistan too inept to spend the money fast enough? Or is the shortfall in disbursements actually due to some kind of dispute over where the money is headed?