Now that ties between Pakistan and US are fast thawing, Islamabad has sent the first Coalition Support Fund (CSF) bills to Washington since the US Navy SEALs raid to hunt down Osama bin Laden in May last year.
The Joint Staff headquarters has sent fresh CSF claims to Pentagon, a senior official from the finance ministry told The Express Tribune. Neither the ministry nor the US Embassy in Pakistan disclosed the exact amount of the claims, but it is said to be between $500 and $600 million.
During the earlier stalemate, both the military and civilian leadership had maintained national pride and sovereignty were more important than financial gains. Pakistan had decided not to send any receipts for expenditures incurred from the May 1, 2011 US raid which killed Osama Bin Laden to the air strike that claimed the lives of over 24 Pakistani soldiers at the Salala check post on November 24.
However, the first bill sent to Pentagon since the raid in Abbottabad on May 1 last year is, interestingly, for expenditures incurred during the same period.
The US Embassy in Islamabad refused to comment on the recent development. “For information on new claims filed by the Pakistani government, you will have to refer to them,” said the embassy’s spokesman Mark Stroh.
Replying to another question, Stroh said Obama’s administration had notified the Congress regarding reimbursement of existing claims worth $1.1 billion. According to standard procedure, the Congress has 15 days from the day of the notification to object to the claims. If no objections are raised, the administration is allowed to complete the transaction.
The military’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) also shied away from deliberating on the issue. A senior official requesting anonymity said the finance ministry overlooks reimbursement claims and subsequently disburses a quota to the military. Under the existing formula, the military gets 60% of the disbursed amount while the rest is used for budget financing.
The government is already facing criticism for forgoing $1.3 billion under CSF claims and agreeing to receive only $1.1 billion. Pakistan initially claimed $3.4 billion, but the US rejected $900 million from the amount. Pakistan later settled for even less.
To compensate for the lack of CSF funds, the finance ministry had earlier agreed to allot a supplementary budget to the military despite worsening economic woes. The ministry released Rs510.2 billion against the approved budget of Rs495.2 billion to the armed forces, revealed official documents.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.