'US continues to fill Pak coffers despite concerns'


Chidanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON: A Washington- based think tank has claimed that Pakistan is the recipient of a $4.2 billion "blank cheque", from the US in its efforts on the war on terror.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) says the unprecedented and unaccounted US munificence to the military junta in Pakistan has become a hot button issue in Washington. The Democrat-controlled Congress is now threatening to halt assistance unless the regime in Islamabad delivers on its promise to stop terrorist and extremist activity.

But the many supporters of Pakistan's military in the Bush administration have said any such move will threaten the stability of the Musharraf regime and could pave way for fundamentalist forces to take control, an argument advanced by Musharraf cronies.

In fact, so enamoured is the Bush administration of the military junta that it has ignored or played down the democratic uprising in Pakistan in the past fortnight arising from the confrontation between the country's dictatorship and the judiciary and media.

The CPI study said, "CSF money has continued to flow despite growing US concerns over Pakistan's assistance in the global war on terror." Congressional Research Service estimates Pakistan's total take of CSF through August 2006 at $4.75 billion.

The CSF money is separate from US bilateral aid to Pakistan made through Congressional appropriations. A recent study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimates the total value of all American aid including military, economic, and development assistance to Pakistan since 9/11 at more than $10 billion.

CSF, the CPI study explained, was created in the series of emergency supplemental appropriations bills passed by Congress after the 2001 attacks. Beginning in early 2002, Congress began giving the defence department hundreds of millions of dollars a year to reimburse coalition governments for their support in the war on terror and, later, Iraq.

In fact, "Coalition Support Funds" is not even an official term but a colloquialism used within the defence department.