US Pays Pakistan Billions to Fight Terror
CAIRO The Bush administration pays Pakistan nearly one billion dollar a year in monthly installments to conduct anti-terror operations, despite accusations that Islamabad in turning a blind eye to a resurging Taliban. "They send us a bill, and we just pay it," a senior military official who has dealt extensively with President Pervez Musharraf told the New York Times on Sunday, May 20.
"Nobody can really explain what we are getting for this money or even where it�'s going."
The daily said the Bush administration has paid Pakistan more than 5.6 billion dollars since unleashing its so-called war on terror in October 2001.
The monthly payment of $80 million are not widely advertised and are buried deep in the public budget numbers, it added.
The Bush administration has told Congress that the Pakistanis were carrying out operations that "would be difficult for US Armed Forces to attain."
"Pakistan�'s cooperation is very important in the global war on terror and for our operations in Afghanistan," said But Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley.
"Our investments in that partnership have paid off over time, from increased information sharing to kills and captures of key terrorist operatives."
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan abandoned its support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and became a front-line ally in the US-led war on terror.
Deploying around 80,000 troops on the rugged border with Afghanistan, it has since arrested several senior Al-Qaeda members including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
Several American military officials and lawmakers have recommended linking the money to Pakistan�'s performance.
Senator Jack Reed, who visited Pakistan in 2006, has said that the Pentagon's military office in Islamabad recommended "paying for specific objectives that are planned and executed, rather than simply paying what the country bills."
A senior military official engaged in battling the Taliban said many commanders and diplomats in the region agreed with that recommendation, said the Times.
Johndroe, the national security spokesman, said the Bush administration was not considering any changes in the aid mechanism.
"I�'m not aware of any serious discussion to cut off the funding," he said.
Analysts say the Bush administration fears that slashing aid could destabilize Mthe Musharraf's regime.
"In funding the Pakistani military, we are making it easier for Musharraf to fulfill his objectives, and we are keeping the military off his back," said Xenia Dormandy, a former director for South Asia for the National Security Council who is now a scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Musharraf suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry over unspecified accusations of misconduct, outraging the judiciary, lawyers and the opposition.
The crisis has snowballed over the past two months and is the most serious challenge to Musharraf's authority since he seized power in a military coup in 1999.
Critics say the general dismissed the top judge to ensure a pliant judiciary in case of legal challenges against his intention to seek another five-year term as president-in-uniform from the outgoing parliament, stacked with his supporters.