WASHINGTON: The whopping US$ 7.5 billion American aid to Pakistan has run into serious trouble as only a fraction could be spent due to differences in priorities, even as the remaining money is under scrutiny.
In 2009, Congress passed with fanfare the five-year aid plan intended to prove Washington’s long-term commitment to Pakistan’s weak civilian government. Both countries touted the package as a way to reset relations long centered on military ties. But two years later, only US$ 500 million has been spent as the programme has run into bureaucratic delays, disagreements over priorities and fears about corruption.
Now the remainder of the funding is under scrutiny in the Republican-led House where two panels have approved broad cuts in foreign aid and stringent conditions on assistance to a number of countries, including Pakistan, the Washington Post reported.
Although the Obama administration is fighting the cuts, US officials say they expect lawmakers to shrink the aid package while requiring greater evidence that Pakistan is fighting terrorism and that the funding is reaping benefits.
The debate over civilian aid has transformed it from a potential tool for healing the deep rift between the United States and Pakistan to yet another flash point in a relationship that has reached new lows in the three months since US Navy SEALs killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.