Monday, October 5, 2009

Military Aid to Pakistan Helped Musharraf, Not the Military

We are starting to find out how well the money we have given Pakistan has been used. And the news isn't pretty.

Between 2002 and 2008, while Al Qaeda regrouped, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion in American aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, two army generals tell The Associated Press. That's 0.0000075%, folks.

The account of the generals, who asked to remain anonymous because military rules forbid them from speaking publicly, was backed up by other retired and active generals, former bureaucrats and government ministers.

At the time of the siphoning, Pervez Musharraf, a Washington ally, served as both chief of staff and president, making it easier to divert money intended for the military to bolster his sagging image at home through economic subsidies.

Generals and ministers say the diversion of the money hurt the military in very real ways:

  • Helicopters critical to the battle in rugged border regions were not available. At one point in 2007, more than 200 soldiers were trapped by insurgents in the tribal regions without a helicopter lift to rescue them.

  • The limited night vision equipment given to the army was taken away every three months for inventory and returned three weeks later.

  • Equipment was broken, and training was lacking. It was not until 2007 that money was given to the Frontier Corps, the front-line force, for training.

For more than a year, the Pentagon paid Pakistan's navy $19,000 a month per vehicle just for repair costs on a fleet of fewer than 20 vehicles. Monthly food bills doubled for no apparent reason, and for a year the Pentagon paid the bills without checking, according to the report.

And we're considering giving them more money but we can't tell what they do with it. "We don't have a mechanism for tracking the money after we have given it to them," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Wright said in a telephone interview.

You can find the original article here.

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