Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cunning Musharraf Siphoned US Military Aid into the Pakistan Economy !

Pakistan Economy went on an over drive during the Musharraf Era ! Even though critics of Musharraf are quick to shrug off the economic growth part of the 9 years of his rule but the graphs speak louder then the shrugs !

News report coming in from the West and Pakistani military reveal more about the nine years of Musharraf rule. Statements from ex-generals and the Pentagon sum up on what went on in Pakistan in the last decade.

After taking over the helm in Pakistan Musharraf strategized and siphoned Billions of Dollars of US Military aid into the ailing Pakistan Economy ! Ex-Generals authenticate news reports which claim that Military aid was funneled for mega projects in Pakistan. The claims that the diversion of money hurt the military but helped the Economy tremendously which grew at a staggering 8%.

In a related development Pentagon said that there is no mechanism to track money sent to Pakistan and US aid funds were used to buy weapons better suited to fighting India then the Taliban !

Its widely suspected that these stories have been circulated by former President Musharraf himself. Analysts say that fearing corruption Musharraf has tipped the US on how to give 'Project specific' aid to Pakistan. Relying on these reports US has mandated that all projects be audited every three months.

On the sidelines of this development Black Water with its new name Xe (pronounced Zee) has moved into Pakistan and is sub-contracting infrastructure projects all over Pakistan.

Although the above caption is bad news for US but for Pakistan its a sigh of relief that the army did not just get billions of dollars of aid. US aid was pumped into the economy and Pakistan went through an era of 8% growth during the last 6 years of Musharraf's rule.

Mega projects like the Gwadar Port, Karachi-Makran Highway, Khushab Nuclear Plant which produced a new generation of lighter fuel plutonium-based weapons, Islamabad-Peshawar Highway, Upgrading of Indus highway, Buying of land for Basha Dam, Chashma I and II Nuclear Plants etc. were all commenced. It was amazing that Pakistan's debt remained at $38 billion and dollar stood fast at Rs. 60 during the 9 years of Musharraf rule.

The US has long suspected that a majority of the billions of dollars it has sent to Pakistan to battle the Taliban has been diverted to the domestic economy and other causes, such as fighting India. However, the scope and longevity of the misuse has become clear after two army generals have claimed that 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.

The generals, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had their accounts corroborated by retired and active generals, former bureaucrats and government ministers. They said former president Pervez Musharraf had served as both chief of staff and president at the time of the siphoning, making it easier to divert money to help Pakistan economically.

“The army itself got very little,” said General (r) Mahmud Durrani, who was Pakistan’s ambassador to the US under Musharraf. The military was financing the war on terror out of its own budget", which again is good news for Pakistan but bad for the US. The money was used for supporting Pakistan budget deficit and lowered Pakistan staggering $38 billion debt. Pakistan debt servicing decreased during the 9 years from 55% of the budget to 35%.

Its ironic that the details on misuse of American aid comes as Washington again promises Pakistan money. Analysts are suspecting that these stories are being implanted at this time to make sure that money is invested directly into Pakistan's infrastructure development programs. There has been talk of bypassing the Federal Government and funding the infrastructure projects directly. Legislation to triple general aid to Pakistan cleared Congress last week. The legislation also authorises “such sums as are necessary” for military assistance to Pakistan, upon several conditions, including certification that Pakistan is cooperating in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The US is also insisting on more accountability for reimbursing money spent.

Analysts are also suspecting that the former President on the sidelines of his 'lecture tours' in the US is supporting direct funding of the projects bypassing Zardari's Government. Former President has been lecturing Think Tanks in the US, Europe, India and the Far-East discussing the war on terrorism and Pakistan.

No mechanism: But the US still cannot follow what happens to the money it doles out. “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.

Pakistan has received more money from the US’ war fund than any other nation. It is also the least expensive warfront. The amount the US spends per soldier per month is just $928, compared with $76,870 in Afghanistan. Yet by 2008, the US had provided Pakistan with $8.6 billion in military money, and more than $12 billion in all. “The army was sending in the bills,” said one general. “The army was taking from its coffers to pay for the war effort — the access roads construction, the fuel, everything.”

Indian war: Former General Durrani alleged that some of the money from the US went to buying weapons better suited to fighting India than in the border regions of Afghanistan — armour-piercing tow missiles, sophisticated surveillance equipment, air-to-air missiles, maritime patrol aircraft, anti-ship missiles and F-16 fighter aircraft. This allegation again implies that the money did get spent and there are no allegation of corruptions just siphoning the money - again a sigh of relief to Pakistanis.

Meanwhile, military spokesman General Athar Abbas said the US gave nothing to offset the cost of Pakistan’s dead and wounded in the war on terror. The hospital and rehabilitation costs for the wounded have come to more than $25 million, he said - costs that the US does not compensate Pakistan for. Another allegation talks about an hospital built with the US aid and did not end up in anyones Swiss account !

Musharraf’s spokesman, General (r) Rashid Qureshi, flatly denied that his former boss had shortchanged the army. “He has answered these questions. He has answered all the questions,” he added.

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