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'US terror aid to Pakistan more useful against India'

'US terror aid to Pakistan more useful against India'

Author: NYT & Agencies
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 21, 2007
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Pak_using_US_aid_against_India/articleshow/2063202.cms

Pakistan has received $1.8 billon as security assistance from the US for the war against terrorism, but the weapons financed under it are "more useful in countering India" than fighting Al Qaida and Taliban, according to a study by the US-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The security assistance mostly finances large weapons systems and these are more useful in countering India than fighting Al Qaida or the Taliban, Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet, the authors of the study, have said. Also, the US is continuing to make large payments of roughly $1 billion a year to Pakistan for what it calls reimbursements to the country's military for conducting counterterrorism efforts along the border with Afghanistan, even though Pakistan's President decided eight months ago to slash patrols through the area where Al Qaida and Taliban fighters are most active.

The monthly payments, called coalition support funds, are not widely advertised. Buried in public budget numbers, the payments are intended to reimburse Pakistan's military for the cost of the operations. So far, Pakistan has received more than $5.6 billion under the program over five years, more than half of the total aid the US has sent to the country since the September 11, 2001, attacks, not counting covert funds.

Some American military officials in the region have recommended that the money be tied to Pakistan's performance in pursuing Al Qaida and keeping the Taliban from gaining a haven from which to attack the government of Afghanistan. American officials have been surprised by the speed at which both organisations have gained strength in the past year.

But Bush administration officials say no such plan is being considered, despite new evidence that the Pakistani military is often looking the other way when Taliban fighters retreat across the border into Pakistan, ignoring calls from American spotters to intercept them.

There is also at least one American report that Pakistani security forces have fired in support of Taliban fighters attacking Afghan posts. The administration, according to some current and former officials, is fearful of cutting off the cash or linking it to performance for fear of further destabilizing Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, who is facing the biggest challenges to his rule since he took power in 1999.

The White House would not directly answer the question of why Pakistan is being paid the same very large
amount after publicly declaring that it is significantly cutting back on its patrols in the most important border area. But Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for Stephen J Hadley, the national security adviser, emphasised Pakistan's strategic importance in the region.


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