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30 November 2009

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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Where did the funds go?

As the Obama Administration focuses more on the social sectors of the Pakistani economy and separates its aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar Bill from assistance to the Pakistan Army, new information about how the old US funds were utilised by the Musharraf regime has come to light. The revelation is that the army was not given all the aid meant for increasing its capacity to fight terrorism, but that most of it was diverted by the Musharraf regime to prop up the civilian government.

A couple of retired generals have decided to speak out. General Mahmud Durrani (Retd), who was Pakistan’s ambassador to the US under General Musharraf, says: “It went to things like subsidies, which is why everything looked hunky-dory. The military was financing the war on terror out of its own budget.” And how was this made possible? By the fact that General Musharraf was both army chief and de facto “ruling” president of Pakistan.

According to a report, the additional shocking fact is that some sections of the army, faced with the terrorism of the Taliban, received nothing till 2007, the year when Musharraf’s era began to crumble under pressure from the mistakes the general-president made. In these lean years for the army, “helicopters critical to the battle were not available; the limited night-vision equipment was taken away every three months and returned three weeks later; and old equipment fell out of repair and training was lacking.”

There have been rumours about money getting “siphoned off” on Musharraf’s watch. Some US circles thought Pakistan’s military was more obsessed with India and spent what it got not on the war against domestic terrorism, but on its state of preparedness against India. But if, between 2002 and 2008, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, what kind of defence against India was Pakistan able to secretly mount? On the other hand, the PPP leader President Asif Ali Zardari has been talking of the “misuse” of nearly $10 billion in American aid.

Pakistan doesn’t make public its defence budget. So one cannot track what happens to the money that goes into it. Such sectors as intelligence are kept away from public scrutiny although most of what the spooks do affects the civil sector and the economy. We know that General Musharraf “saved” the army some money by inducting a large number of serving officers into civilian jobs. Pakistan already pays its army’s pensions from the civilian budget, but the charge that wasteful subsidies were paid out of the money meant for the army needs investigation. The “circular” debt that General Musharraf’s regime left behind indicates how reckless his government was with the economy he never tired of discussing.

The Americans were willing to fund the Pakistan Army because in comparison with their own troops it was cheap. By 2008, the US paid Pakistan $8.6 billion for the military, and more than $12 billion in all. The army would send in the bills and the US would pay, barring some cases when delays took place till lack of trust began to prevail and the bills remained pending.

General Mahmud Durrani, whose thesis is that Pakistan has disadvantaged itself politically and economically by pursuing India-centric strategies, says money went into buying equipment better suited to fighting India in Afghanistan than to fighting terrorists. It bought armour-piercing TOW missiles, sophisticated surveillance equipment, air-to-air missiles, maritime patrol aircraft, anti-ship missiles and F-16 fighter aircraft. As a result, in 2007, Pakistan had only one working helicopter for use in FATA!

Pakistan was the largest recipient of US assistance under General Musharraf. It is about to receive even more of it under the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Because of what has happened in the past, there is a lack of trust between the donor and the recipient. Also, those who want to fight terrorism in Pakistan without American help — they actually believe Pakistan doesn’t need to fight terrorism — want the American assistance rejected. Until an inquiry is held — and the time for that will come later — we will not know what actually happened. Now is the time to back the army and do whatever it takes to increase its capacity to fight the terrorists. *



Aamir said...

You decide after reading this as to what should we do:

ISI Chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha meets CIA director Updated at: 2130 PST, Thursday, October 01, 2009


WASHINGTON: ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who is presently on US trip, met with high security officials including CIA director, Leon Panetta and President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, Gen. James L. Jones. According to sources, matters relating to Pakistan and prevailing security situation in the region came under discussion during the above meetings. ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha has been on official visit to US for the last one week.

Aamir said...


In the afternoon, Mahmood was invited to CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, where he told George Tenet, the CIA director, that in his view Mullah Omar, the Taliban chief, was a religious man with humanitarian instincts and not a man of violence! This was a bit difficult for the CIA officials to digest and rightly so as the Taliban’s track record, especially in the realm of human rights, was no secret. General Mahmood was told politely but firmly that Mullah Omar and the Taliban would have to face US Military might if Osama Bin Laden along with other Al-Qaeda leaders were not handed over without delay. To send the message across clearly, Richard Armitage held a second meeting with Mahmood the same day, informing him that he would soon be handed specific American demands, to which Mahmood reiterated that Pakistan would cooperate. {Bush at War by Bob Woodward, published by Simon & Schuster, 2002, New York}, p 32. {Pakistan: Eye of the Storm by Owen Bennett Jones, published by New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002}, p. 2.

General Mahmood on September 13, 2001, was handed a formal list of the US demands by Mr. Armitage and was asked to convey these to Musharraf and was also duly informed, for the sake of emphasis, that these were “not negotiable.” Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and the assisstant secretary of state, Christina Rocca, had drafted the list in the shape of a “non-paper”. It categorically asked Pakistan:

Stop Al-Qaeda operatives coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan, and end ALL logistical support for Osama Bin Laden.

Give blanket overflight and landing rights to US aircraft.

Give the US access to Pakistani Naval and Air Bases and to the border areas betweeen Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Turn over all the intelligence and immigration information.

Condemn the September 11 attacks and curb all domestic expressions of support for terrorism.
Cut off all shipments of fuel to the Talibans, and stop Pakistani volunteers from going into Afghanistan to join the Taliban. Note that, should the evidence strongly implicate Osama Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda Network in Afghanistan, and should the Taliban continue to harbour him and his accomplices, Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban regime, end support for the Taliban, and assist the US in the aforementioned ways to destroy Osama and his network.

Having gone through the list, Mahmood declared that he was quite clear on the subject and that “he knew how the President thought, and the President would accept these points.” {Bush at War by Bob Woodward, published by Simon & Schuster, 2002, New York}, p 58-59. Interview: Richard Armitage, “Campaign Against Terror,” PBS (Frontline), April 19, 2002}

Mahmood then faxed the document to Musharraf. While the latter was going through it and in the process of weighing the pros and cons of each demand, his aide de camp that Colin Powell was on the line. Musharraf liked and respected Powell, and the conversation was not going to be a problem. He told him that he understood and appreciated the US position, but he would respond to the US demands after having discussed these with his associates. Powell was far too polite to remind him that he in fact was the government, but did inform him that his General in Washington had already assured them that these demands would be acceptable to the government of Pakistan. {Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism : Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror by Hassan Abbas, published by An East Gate Book , M.E. Sharpe Armonk, New York. London, England.}.

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