Disbursement through NGOs: Pakistan seeks details of US aid

Published: May 15, 2011
One-third of all Kerry-Lugar aid spent ‘off the budget’; Islamabad says it can not be accounted for.

One-third of all Kerry-Lugar aid spent ‘off the budget’; Islamabad says it can not be accounted for.


Pakistan has demanded the US to share details of funds that it plans to spend through nongovernmental channels, and without the government’s knowledge, under the $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar aid package.

Islamabad is sceptical that the money being spent through non-governmental channels may not only be wasted but also fall in the hands of unwanted elements, said sources in the finance ministry. “Islamabad’s biggest worry is that the money the US wants to spend off the government books amounts to almost one-third of the Kerry-Lugar aid package,” said an official involved in the process on condition of anonymity.

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh raised the issue with the Obama administration during his recent visit to Washington, sources told The Express Tribune.

‘On’ and ‘off’ the budget

Under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package, the US committed to give $7.5 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan from 2010 through 2014, amounting to $1.5 billion every year.  The US Spend Plan 2010  indicates that for the financial year 2010-11, the Obama administration would give $1.02 billion to Pakistan through the government channel, known as ‘on the budget’ aid.

The remaining $488 million, that is 32.5 per cent of the yearly allocation, would be spent ‘off the budget’ and through the United States Agency for International Development. The US only indicates the total amount, without giving details of the expenditures.

Sources said that out of the total ‘off the budget’ assistance, the US is claiming to spend $170 million on a programme of narcotics control and law enforcement, $106.4 million for unilateral office of transition and $60 million towards humanitarian assistance. It is commonly anticipated that the money would be disbursed through Pakistani and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Tracking and accountability

Sources said this is a matter of concern for the government since these NGOs are ultimately not accountable to Pakistani authorities. A few months ago, chairman of the standing committee on economic affairs Malik Azmat claimed during committee proceedings that goods distributed among people displaced by the Malakand operation were eventually recovered from extremists in Swat.

Recalling the committee proceedings, Azmat told The Express Tribune that “two foreign NGOs had been found distributing aid to extremist elements in the Malakand division.” He said the committee then recommended to the government to ensure that local elders are involved in the aid distribution process. Meanwhile, according to a US report published before the Kerry-Lugar aid package was passed, little or no substantial impact was recorded of aid spent ‘off the budget.’ This helped policy makers to push Washington to disburse a large chunk of aid through the government.

Sources said there are indications that the US may provide quarterly or bi-annual review reports of the same.

Future disbursements

Out of $1.02 billion allocated for the year, the US has so far released $359 million while Islamabad is expecting to receive another $381 million before June.  However, in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing, officials doubt the funds will come according to the initial plan.

The US Congress has linked the disbursement of Kerry-Lugar aid with a certificate from the secretary of state, confirming that Islamabad is committed to rooting out terrorism. The government is also expecting to receive another $600 million out of the withheld amount of the Coalition Support Fund. So far, the US has disbursed $8.6 billion but has withheld $3.5 billion, according to a presentation by the defence ministry to the National Assembly standing committee on finance.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • fahim
    May 15, 2011 - 9:54AM

    cheap beggars salivating at the sight of dollars.. shame on usRecommend

  • Hidayat
    May 15, 2011 - 1:35PM

    In Pakistan there is no NGO to use US fund transparently. USA should use and disperse this fund through his own organizations.Recommend

  • May 15, 2011 - 1:54PM

    In Syria the NGOs funded and supported the uprising. Now Syria is being threatened by the USA. The NGOs operating in Pakistan could be for the same purpose. NGOs are modern day missionariesRecommend

  • Ba Ha
    May 15, 2011 - 2:19PM

    NGO funding is the paycheck of our ruling class. HOW DARE YOU ASK US?Recommend

  • Nael
    May 15, 2011 - 3:12PM

    Not only that. It is true that more than 30% fund goes back to paying NGO officials who are most probably Americans, another large % on activities which have nothing to do with the cause and a very small portion is used for what it is meant for as an eyewash. If these fund are properly audited people would be appalled at the findings. Similarly, the rest of the so called aid is in reality loan which is paid back with huge interest through the nose at the expense of general Pakistanis.. “Aid” has never never been used for anything productive, it’s an American tool to continue to inflict injury on common Pakistani by twisting arms to formulate and implement unfriendly policies and by buying off already super rich politicians and army personnel with no real halal source of other income. Pakistanis must rise and take things in their own hands before it’s too late. Recommend

  • imran
    May 15, 2011 - 3:18PM

    Pakistani does’t want ur money, u r paying and disbursing money for ur own interest.

    1.you americans think of ur self unaccountable?
    2.you don’t want to scan ur container at karachi port?(those containers then get snatched in B/w karachi to Peshawar, God knows , what they were carying? ffrom where all these weopons and ammunition is distributed in pakistan?)
    3.you don’t respect the law of Pakistan, neither have any value for life of Pakistani.( when talking about an American , u think of ur self superior, are these human rights u r following)?

    Enough is enough, now pack ur luggage, or deal with it.

    God Bless Pakistan.Recommend

  • Khalid Javed
    May 15, 2011 - 3:25PM

    Wish the ruling parties were looking for the ways to delink & dissociate Pakistan from this monster,” War on Terror” instead of issuing confirmation to the secretary of state that we are committed to root out this so-called terrorism.The bigger monster i.e.,Imperialism has to be shoed out of the region if someone really wishes to purge the region of this reign of terror. Negotiations & not war will be the eventual solution to the problem. These NGO’s are reported to be serving as mercenaries for US spy agencies. .Recommend

  • Nation Prevails
    May 15, 2011 - 3:46PM

    Pakistan Govt and security institutions should keep a very close eye on these NGO’s.

    They do more harm then good Recommend

  • Massileaks
    May 15, 2011 - 4:29PM

    $1.5 billion is a lot of money and we don’t see it. Pakistani NGOs should not be given the aid money except the old reputed ones. American should use international NGOs which have yearly audits. Failure to do so by americans is criminal because this aid money will be used by corrupt elite or extremist. Recommend

  • Maria
    May 15, 2011 - 4:29PM

    @Hidayat: Better still; Time to say good bye to aid and stand on on own two feet. You think that US aid is helping Pakistan? Do you think they know how to spend the money better than Pakistanis. Look at how billions was wasted in the US after Hurricane Katrina. Billions of US Tax Dollars unaccounted for and mispent in the US by Americans too.Recommend

  • May 15, 2011 - 6:53PM

    One NGO I know replace all furniture in its office every year. NGOs serves as front for Economic hitmen. Throw the NGOs out and seal the borders. TTP finding will be removed.Recommend

  • May 15, 2011 - 6:57PM

    *funding. Recommend

  • Zahid Aslam
    May 15, 2011 - 10:58PM

    We dont need money your money US……Recommend

  • Tariq
    May 16, 2011 - 6:26AM

    Amazing the Pakistanis was to dictate how we spend our moneyRecommend

  • Tariq
    May 16, 2011 - 6:28AM

    Have some balls and refuse our moneyRecommend

  • Shelly Smith
    May 30, 2011 - 11:28AM

    As an “average American” of middle class standing, I agree with you in saying the U.S. needs to stop sending money to Pakistan. The money is needed in the U.S. for its own citizens. How can we keep sending money to Pakistan when we have to borrow the money from China? We cannot afford it anymore. Plus, our soldiers are getting killed for no good reason. The terrorists in Afghanistan can jump over the border to safety in Pakistan – it’s simply not reasonable to stay in Afghanistan or Pakistan under the circumstances. The people of Pakistan have spoken – send all U.S. troops home to their families and keep U.S. dollars in America. God Bless Pakistan, and I pray our countries can be peaceful allies.Recommend

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