US dumps 40 pc of Pak's 'war on terror' bills
The United States and Pakistan are engaged in a billing dispute, with Washington rejecting over 40 per cent of the claims submitted by Islamabad as expenses to fight Al Qaeda and other terrorists along the Afghanistan border, according to a report.
According to internal Pentagon documents, the US -- increasingly suspicious of what it sees as Islamabad's mixed record against militants -- has been quietly rejecting more than 40 per cent of the claims submitted by Pakistan as compensation for military gear, food, water, troop housing and other expenses, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Those records detail 3.2 billion dollars in expense claims submitted to the US for operations from January 2009 through June 2010, the report said.
Click on NEXT to read further...
Image: Top Pakistan Army officials climb atop a tank during military exercises in the Khudai Range in central Punjab's Muzaffargarh district
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters
Pak has routinely submitted exaggerated requests
According to the documents and interviews with officials, Pakistan has routinely submitted requests that were unsubstantiated, or were deemed by the US to be exaggerated or of little or no use in the war on terror -- underscoring what officials and experts see as a deep undercurrent of mistrust between both nations, it added.
"This is about how much money Pakistan can extract," said Moeed Yusuf, South Asia advisor for the United States Institute of Peace, an independent research organization funded by the Congress.
Pakistani officials deny they are trying to milk the US, and say that the increased American scrutiny has sent the message to the Pakistanis that Washington considers the army to be full of cheats, said the report.
Image: Pakistani army soldiers patrol in Swat valley region located in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
There are other reasons too
A senior Pakistani official called this "detrimental to bilateral trust," adding that while Islamabad understands the need for some scrutiny, the US has gone too far.
"People have to give a receipt for every cup of tea they drink or every kilometer they drive," said the official.
Meanwhile, US officials say that Pakistani claims have been rejected for a number of reasons, including failure to confirm that expenses were incurred in support of American operations in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism.
Image: A Pakistani soldier holds a machine gun as he poses for the media during an operation organized by the army on top of a mountain near Sherwangi Tor village, located in South Waziristan
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters
$26 mn for barbed wire? $70 mn for radar maintenance?
Some US officials also fear that some of the aid is being diverted to the border with Pakistan's traditional rival, India, the report said.
Secret diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that US officials were taken aback by Pakistani claims as early as 2006, including a 26 million dollar charge for barbed wire and pickets, and for almost 70 million dollars in radar maintenance, 'although there is no enemy air threat related to the war on terror'.
The documents show that denial rates have climbed from a low of 1.6 per cent in 2005, to 38 per cent in 2008 and 44 per cent in 2009. Claims are generally processed six months to a year after submission, said the report.
Image: A Pakistani army AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter flies over Kund mountain near Kotkai village in South Waziristan
Photographs: Nicolas Asfouri/Agency/Pool/Reuters