KARACHI: Pakistan is likely to get $300 million from the United States for costs incurred in fighting militants, officials said on Thursday, at a time US legislators have been questioning aid to Pakistan after Osama bin Laden was found there.
The funds are part of a so-called Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a US programme to reimburse countries that have incurred costs supporting counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
“Pakistan should receive $300 million soon,” said a Pakistani finance official who declined to be identified.
The United States has reimbursed Pakistan $7.4 billion under the CSF programme since 2001, when Pakistan joined the US-led campaign against militancy.
Funds that come in through the CSF are not officially designated as U.S. foreign aid. Some US lawmakers have questioned whether Pakistan was serious about fighting militants after US special forces found and killed al Qaeda leader bin Laden in a Pakistani town near the capital on May 2.
Some of them have called for a suspension of aid but the US administration has stressed the importance of maintaining cooperation with the uneasy ally in the interests of battling militancy and bringing stability to neighbouring Afghanistan.
Pakistan has rejected accusations that it was either incompetent in tracking down the man behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States or complicit in hiding him in the town of Abbottabad, 50 km (30 miles) north of Islamabad.
US legislators have long complained there is little accountability for the funds given Pakistan through the CSF.
In 2008, US auditors said there was not always enough documentation to verify that costs being reimbursed were valid. The US funds are due as cash-strapped Pakistan is in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the release of the next tranche of an $11.3 billion loan.
Pakistan and IMF officials began talks on Wednesday – meetings moved to Dubai after bin Laden’s death – aimed at getting agreement on enough reforms in the coming budget to restart a halted IMF bailout loan.
In August last year, the IMF stopped releasing funds because of Pakistan’s patchy implementation of promised fiscal reforms.