Pakistan diverted most of the money it received for counter-insurgency operations from the US to non-military uses, the country’s then finance minister Shaukat Tarin told Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Pakistan in late 2009.
In a US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Tarin also requested Patterson to share how much money the US pays to the Pakistan Army as its own head, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, refused to reveal the numbers to the government.
Pakistan is one of the 27 countries eligible to get money from the US under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for reimbursing costs incurred during counterinsurgency operations against terrorists and others. It is estimated to have nearly $8 billion under the fund since it was set up soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
“Tarin said the Finance Ministry had done a detailed analysis and concluded that, of the total of $6.6 billion the U.S. had provided to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), only some $250 million had actually gone to the Pakistani army under (then) President Musharraf; the rest had gone into the regular budget..,” Patterson wrote in her report on the meeting.
On its part, the US government tells the US Congress that the billions of dollars are going towards the fight against al Qaida, and not to meet the short-fall in Pakistan’s general budget.
In another cable dating to 2007, the Islamabad embassy says notes down its ‘areas of concern’ with regard to the bills presented by Pakistan for fighting Osama.
“The areas of greatest concern to us include costs for helicopter operations ($83 million annually), radar maintenance ($65 million annually) and Joint Staff operations ($5 million annually). We are also seeking confirmation of the location of bunkers constructed ($35 million) and roads built ($20 million) since July 2006, and we have requested answers to anomalies in the cost of rations, flak vests and accommodations maintenance,” it noted.
Tarin painted a picture of an un-cooperative Army chief in General Kayani. The finance minister of Pakistan urged the ambassador to give him details of the assistance provided to Pakistan army and promised that he won’t reduce the Army’s entitlements on that basis.
“Tarin appealed to the Ambassador to keep him informed of funds the U.S. directs to the Pakistani military.. Tarin said that the Finance Ministry needs to be kept aware for overall budgeting purposes. Army Chief of Staff General Kayani does not pass on this information,” Patterson wrote.
While Pakistan’s civilian government, headed by President Asif Ali Zardari, has always maintained that it is in charge of the Army, many observers have begged to differ, claiming that the civilian government has very little control over the Army.
Tarin also urged the US to channel more of its spending in Pakistan through the government as it will “bolster Pakistani Government’s credibility” and “meet the people’s expectations.”