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US Promised $956m to Pakistan

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    $956 million US funds for infrastructure likely By Our Correspondent http://www.dawn.com/2008/04/19/top10.htm WASHINGTON: The United States intends to provide
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2008
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      $956 million US funds for infrastructure likely
      By Our Correspondent
      http://www.dawn.com/2008/04/19/top10.htm


      WASHINGTON: The United States intends to provide $956 million to
      Pakistan between 2008 and 2011 as part of a comprehensive plan to
      expand its engagement with the country from military to civilian sectors.

      In its latest report, the US Government Accountability Office noted
      that if approved, this fund will be used for development, security,
      capacity building and infrastructure.

      The need to enhance US engagement in Pakistan followed a realisation
      in Washington that the military alone cannot rid the country of terrorism.

      The GAO noted that terrorism had spread beyond the tribal areas and
      was now threatening the entire country. “The terrorist assassination
      of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto could encourage terrorists to
      strike the Pakistani establishment anywhere in the country … radical
      elements now have the potential to undermine Pakistan itself,” the
      report warned.

      The GAO assessment of terrorism threats in Pakistan covers the period
      from July 2007 through April 2008 and strongly backs the US Embassy’s
      recommendation that Washington needs to develop a multifaceted
      approach to deal with terrorism in Pakistan.

      The new approach, if approved by the administration and key US
      government agencies, would constitute the US government’s first
      attempt to focus more attention on key elements other than military
      ones to address US counterterrorism goals in Pakistan. These elements
      include development assistance and public diplomacy, as well as
      counterinsurgency training, which have not been part of the previous
      military approach.

      The new strategy also calls for greater levels of direct US planning,
      implementation, coordination and oversight.

      But the report noted that “this new approach does not yet constitute a
      comprehensive plan, and all of the agencies’ individual efforts have
      not been fully approved in Washington.”

      The report also pointed out that such efforts suffer from funding
      shortfalls, and support by the recently elected government of Pakistan
      is also uncertain.

      The GAO reported that the United State is also supporting Pakistan’s
      Sustainable Development Plan for the Fata. Pakistan’s plan is a
      nine-year, $2 billion effort to provide economic development, extend
      the influence of the Pakistani government and establish security in
      the Fata.

      To assist this effort, the Pentagon undertook a counterinsurgency
      assessment in the Fata and began developing its Security Development
      Plan. At the same time, USAID provided technical assistance to the
      Pakistani government to help formalise its Sustainable Development
      Plan, as well as to plan USAID-development activities in the Fata.

      All development efforts in the Fata will be directly planned,
      implemented, coordinated and monitored by the US Embassy in Pakistan.
      As of September 2007, the embassy planned to spend $187.6 million on
      this initial effort using fiscal year 2007 funds.

      Since 2002, the United States relied principally on the military to
      address US national security goals in Pakistan.

      Of the over $10.5 billion that the United States has provided to
      Pakistan from 2002 through 2007, the GAO identified about $5.8 billion
      specifically for the Fata and border regions; about 96 per cent of
      this funding reimbursed Pakistan for military operations in the Fata
      and the border region.

      “There have been limited efforts, however, to address other underlying
      causes of terrorism in the Fata by providing development assistance or
      by addressing the Fata’s political needs,” the GAO noted.

      ===

      Where does the aid money go?
      Ann Jones
      San Francisco Chronicle


      Much of the money is thrown away on "overpriced and ineffective
      technical assistance," such as those hot-shot American experts, the
      report said. And big chunks are tied to the donor, which means that
      the recipient is obliged to use the money to buy products from the
      donor country, even when -- especially when -- the same goods are
      available cheaper at home.

      To no one's surprise, the United States easily outstrips other nations
      at most of these scams, making it second only to France as the world's
      biggest purveyor of phantom aid. Fully 47 percent of U.S. development
      aid is lavished on overpriced technical assistance. By comparison,
      only 4 percent of Sweden's aid budget goes to technical assistance,
      while Luxembourg and Ireland lay out only 2 percent.

      As for tying aid to the purchase of donor-made products, Sweden and
      Norway don't do it at all. Neither do Ireland and the United Kingdom.
      But 70 percent of U.S. aid is contingent upon the recipient spending
      it on American stuff, including especially American-made armaments.
      The upshot is that 86 cents of every dollar of U.S. aid is phantom aid.

      According to targets set years ago by the United Nations and agreed to
      by almost every country in the world, rich countries should give 0.7
      percent of their national income in annual aid to poor ones. So far,
      only the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (with
      real aid at 0.65 percent of its national income) even come close. Last
      year, for example, when the president sent his wife to Kabul for a few
      hours of photo ops, the New York Times reported that ... she pledged
      that the US would give an additional $17.7 million to support
      education in Afghanistan. But that grant had been announced before;
      and it was ... for a new private, for-profit American University of
      Afghanistan. (How a private university comes to be supported by public
      tax dollars and the Army Corps of Engineers is another peculiarity of
      Bush aid.)

      At the other end of the scale, the United States spends a paltry 0.02
      percent of national income on real aid, which works out to an annual
      contribution of $8 from every citizen of the wealthiest nation in the
      world. (By comparison, Swedes kick in $193 per person, Norwegians
      $304, and the citizens of Luxembourg $357.) President Bush boasts of
      sending billions in aid to Afghanistan, but in fact we could do better
      by passing a hat.

      The Bush administration often deliberately misrepresents its aid
      program for domestic consumption

      Last year, for example, when the president sent his wife to Kabul for
      a few hours of photo ops, the New York Times reported that her mission
      was "to promise long-term commitment from the United States to
      education for women and children." Speaking in Kabul, she pledged that
      the United States would give an additional $17.7 million to support
      education in Afghanistan. But that grant had been announced before;
      and it was not for Afghan education (or women and children) at all but
      for a new private, for-profit American University of Afghanistan. (How
      a private university comes to be supported by public tax dollars and
      the Army Corps of Engineers is another peculiarity of Bush aid.)

      Ashraf Ghani, former finance minister of Afghanistan and president of
      Kabul University, complained, "You cannot support private education
      and ignore public education." But that's typical of American aid.
      Having set up a government in Afghanistan, the United States stiffs
      it, preferring to channel aid money to private American contractors.
      Increasingly privatized, U.S. aid becomes just one more mechanism for
      transferring tax dollars to the pockets of rich Americans.

      In 2001, Andrew Natsios, then head of USAID, cited foreign aid as "a
      key foreign policy instrument" designed to help other countries
      "become better markets for U.S. exports."

      To guarantee that mission, the State Department recently took over the
      formerly semi-autonomous aid agency. And because the aim of U.S. aid
      is to make the world safe for U.S. business, USAID now cuts in
      business from the start. It sends out requests for proposals to the
      short list of usual suspects and awards contracts to those bidders
      currently in favor. (Election time kickbacks influence the list of
      favorites.) Sometimes it invites only one contractor to apply, the
      same efficient procedure that made Halliburton so notorious and so
      profitable in Iraq.

      The criteria for selection of contractors have little or nothing to do
      with conditions in the recipient country, and they are not exactly
      what you would call transparent.

      Take, for example, the case of the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, featured on
      the USAID Web site as a proud accomplishment. (In five years, it's the
      only accomplishment in highway building in Afghanistan -- which is one
      better than the U.S. record building power stations, water systems,
      sewer systems or dams.) The highway was also featured in the Kabul
      Weekly newspaper in March 2005 under the headline, "Millions Wasted on
      Second-Rate Roads."

      Afghan journalist Mirwais Harooni reported that even though other
      international companies had been ready to rebuild the highway for
      $250,000 per kilometer, the Louis Berger Group got the job at $700,000
      per kilometer -- of which there are 389. Why? The standard American
      answer is that Americans do better work. (Though not Berger, which at
      the time was already years behind on another $665 million contract to
      build schools.)

      Berger subcontracted Turkish and Indian companies to build the narrow
      two-lane, shoulderless highway at a final cost of about $1 million per
      mile; and anyone who travels it can see that it is already falling
      apart. (Former Minister of Planning Ramazan Bashardost complained that
      when it came to building roads, the Taliban did a better job.)

      Now, in a move certain to tank President Hamid Karzai's approval
      ratings and further endanger U.S. and NATO troops in the area, the
      United States has pressured his government to turn this "gift of the
      people of the United States" into a toll road and collect $20 a month
      from Afghan drivers. In this way, according to U.S. experts providing
      highly paid technical assistance, Afghanistan can collect $30 million
      annually from its impoverished citizens and thereby decrease the
      foreign aid "burden" on the United States.

      Is it any wonder that foreign aid seems to ordinary Afghans to be
      something only foreigners enjoy?

      At one end of the infamous highway, in Kabul, Afghans disapprove of
      the fancy restaurants where foreigners gather -- men and women
      together -- to drink alcohol and carry on, and plunge half-naked into
      swimming pools. They object to the brothels -- 80 of them by 2005 --
      that house women brought in to serve foreign men.

      They complain that half the capital city lies in ruins, that many
      people still live in tents, that thousands can't find jobs, that
      children go hungry, that schools are overcrowded and hospitals dirty,
      that women in tattered burqas still beg in the streets and turn to
      prostitution, that children are kidnapped and sold into slavery or
      murdered for their kidneys or their eyes.

      They wonder where the promised aid money went and what the puppet
      government can do.


      Ann Jones is the author of "Kabul in Winter," a memoir of Afghanistan,
      where she lived for several years.

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