Operation Zarb-e-Azb: US declines to commit aid for displaced persons

Published: January 10, 2015
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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar (L) addressing the donors conference at the PM House on Friday. PHOTO: PID

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar (L) addressing the donors conference at the PM House on Friday. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: 

In what appears to be the result of sustained diplomatic pressure from India, the United States on Friday declined to commit any funds to help refugees affected by Operation Zarb-e-Azb, resulting in the failure of the third Donors’ Conference to raise the target $380 million needed to fund the government’s return and rehabilitation program.

In the eyes of the finance ministry, the biggest setback came from the United States that did not commit any funds at the conference held at the PM House. US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson was expected to announce $250 million for internally displaced persons (IDPs). That expected announcement was also one of the main reasons behind holding the third Donors Conference, said a senior finance ministry official.

After the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, an action the US government had been persistently asking Islamabad to undertake, the government has held conferences with foreign governments and aid agencies to try to raise money to help the people of the tribal regions displaced by the military’s actions against the Taliban.

In the second donor conference, held on November 11, the government asked for $753 million (Rs75.4 billion) for a return and rehabilitation programme. The government managed to get $375 million in commitments from the World Bank and European governments, including $150 million from the UK, $108 million from the World Bank, and $76 million from Italy, but nothing from the United States. US officials were expected to have announced their government’s commitment at the third conference.

But when Olson did not make any commitments on behalf of Washington, the conference effectively collapsed, leaving Finance Minister Ishaq Dar disturbed and questioning the very rationale for calling the meeting in the first place. In his last meeting with Dar, Olson had told the finance minister that the US would disburse $532 million to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar assistance package, of which $250 million would be for the IDPs, according to one finance ministry official.

In recent days, however, the United States has come under sustained diplomatic pressure from India over its financial assistance to Pakistan. New Delhi wants the US to stop all aid to Pakistan until terrorists it accuses of having masterminded attacks on Indian soil are caught and punished. A US embassy official claimed that the US had provided approximately $100 million for the IDPs, but a finance ministry official contradicted that account, saying that the numbers quoted by the US officials were amounts pledged in the past and related to wheat procurement and processing.

The setback comes at a time when the Pakistan Army has announced that it will be safe for the IDPs to return to their homes starting in February. The government has been scrambling to find the funds for the return and rehabilitation program ahead of that deadline. While the finance ministry has so far disbursed Rs30 billion for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the government has been resorting to desperate measures to raise more revenue, including raising the sales tax on petrol from 17% to 22%.

More than 300,000 families have been displaced from their homes in the tribal areas, mostly from North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army estimates that there has been significant damage as a result of the military operation against the Taliban, with 47% of the infrastructure in Waziristan estimated to have been completely destroyed and even much of the remaining 53% being badly damaged. Miranshah and Mir Ali are among the worst affected towns.

Out of the Rs75.4 billion ($753 million) requested by the government, Islamabad wants to spend Rs12.5 billion for cash disbursement, Rs11.5 billion for rehabilitation costs, Rs1.4 billion for transportation and Rs15 billion for compensation of damaged private property, Rs5 billion for restoration of basic services and Rs30 billion for reconstruction activities. The government has also sought $350 million (Rs35 billion) for establishing a Counter Terrorism Task Force over the long term.

The only decision taken at the third Donors Conference was an agreement on using the ‘Support and Management Secretariat’ of the Engineers Division of the army as the central secretariat for rehabilitation of the IDPs and spending on infrastructure projects. The donors will also coordinate with Fata Secretariat for implementation of the projects.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (38)

  • AJamal
    Jan 10, 2015 - 8:48AM

    All mega projects including metro bus should be put on hold and those funds diverted to the IDP rehabilitation. Nawaz Sharif must not play politics with a human issue.

    Recommend

  • Mercurial_Tim
    Jan 10, 2015 - 9:00AM

    The moment Pakistan went on an all-out war against the terrorists, two notable things happened:

    India started mounting tensions on the border – firing across the border, and chasing Pakistani ghost ships.
    The US bailed out on aid IDPs

    They blame Pakistan for being the home ground for terrorism, but ignore the fact that it is Pakistan who has paid the heaviest price (financial, civil, military, political, children) in the last 10 years.

    Both these nations would never like to see Pakistan in a stable state. These feeble minded radicals are fully funded and supported by them to keep Pakistan on the edge.

    Recommend

  • Sanjeev
    Jan 10, 2015 - 9:21AM

    Is alms your birt right? Put your house in order first

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  • Jan 10, 2015 - 9:47AM

    Why do other countries pay for Pakistan destroying the terrorists they created. Somehow it would be good to come out of StoneAge after 67 years.

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  • Thank you UK
    Jan 10, 2015 - 9:55AM

    The majority of Pakistan’s (and US’s) problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan were due to the US allowing India a free hand in Afghanistan.

    India went about destabalising Pakistan by sponsoring the BLA and TTP through their proxies in the Afghan Government.

    NOW was the time for the US Government to step up. If the US was genuine in seeking stability in the border region, it would have seen the value of this initiative. It seems it is more interested in weapons sales to India (which occupies Kashmir in contravention of UN resolutions).

    In the mean time….THANK YOU VERY MUCH UKRecommend

  • Pakistani
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:06AM

    Thank you UK, Europe and Italy.

    WE ARE EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

    Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:13AM

    ” In what appears to be the result of sustained diplomatic pressure from India, the United States on Friday declined to commit any funds to help refugees affected by Operation Zarb-e-Azb,”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Pakistan must thank India for teaching it a valuable lesson: if u support terror as state policy then u also pay for its clearance.

    Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:13AM

    ” In what appears to be the result of sustained diplomatic pressure from India, the United States on Friday declined to commit any funds to help refugees affected by Operation Zarb-e-Azb,”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Pakistan must thank India for teaching it a valuable lesson: if u support terror as state policy then u also pay for its clearance.

    Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:16AM

    ” But when Olson did not make any commitments on behalf of Washington, the conference effectively collapsed, leaving Finance Minister Ishaq Dar ”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Finance Minister Ishaq Dar should be renamed Alms and Begging Minister.

    Recommend

  • Virkaul
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:25AM

    @Mercurial_Tim:
    While none of us is privy to inside information, we can analyse events as they are revealed. India would want the influence of Taliban curtailed in Afghanistan and would not distract Pak army to fight them unless Pak army is being selective in its approach of treating good & bad Taliban. Second, how are you sure that Pak army has not engineered this drama at the LOC to strengthen this logic? After all, they are masters in this game. Third, India would like its border to be calm due to economic reasons while there are good reasons for Pakistan to ruin that. It is true, India has mounted enormous pressure on financial aid to Pakistan as it could be used for purposes other than IDPS rehab and until Pakistan really punishes the guilty. Cosmetic surgery won’t do.

    Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:45AM

    ” a finance ministry official contradicted that account, saying that the numbers quoted by the US officials were amounts pledged in the past and related to wheat procurement and processing.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    the proud nation of Pakistan and leader of the Islamic world needs US assistance for wheat procurement and processing! Wah Wah.

    Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 10, 2015 - 10:47AM

    ” Operation Zarb-e-Azb: US declines to commit aid for displaced persons”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The title makes it sound that it was mandatory for the US to aid Pakistan and it has defaulted.

    Recommend

  • Dilip
    Jan 10, 2015 - 11:16AM

    The problem with “Operation Zarb-e-Azb” is that it is an open ended battle. There is no time bound limit! How long can Pakistan depend on the Americans to keep on providing funds ?

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  • Mercurial_Tim
    Jan 10, 2015 - 11:28AM

    @Virkual:

    Agreed none of us is privy to the inside information, but logic dictates that Pakistani forces which are scrambled internally and across the western border, would never try to provoke even a small scale war on another front. What will they gain out of it? Absolutely nothing. Flip side of this is to think what will India get out of this – and the writing is on the wall – further destabilization of Pakistan.

    The economic reasons you talk about has hardly anything to do with this. Indeed India is growing economically, but it not relying on trade with Pakistan for its massive economy. Even if it curtails all of its trade with Pakistan, the Indian economy will continue to grow. Hence India has nothing to lose compared to Pakistan with these border skirmishes.

    In your third point, you agree that India has mounted pressure against the dispensation of money. What about the mounting of pressure on the borders? Accept the fact that India is gaining from it.

    Recommend

  • Thotatum25
    Jan 10, 2015 - 11:32AM

    An absurd presumption – I can’t imagine India having that kind of influence with the Obama Administration.

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  • Jan 10, 2015 - 11:58AM

    Excellent! The US has given Pakistan a tight slap on the face by not committing funds. Bravo and thanx a million. Ambassador Olson should not have attended the meeting.
    Where are the tax reforms? The PPP and PMLN elected are members of standing committees on taxation, excise, development and so on and so forth.
    Okay fine! But on June 30 2014 the FBR records showed NIL tax payments. How can the PPP and PMLN live so extravagantly without an iota of shame and responsibility? Throw them out of the country and deprive them of their citizenship. Salams

    Recommend

  • Lahori
    Jan 10, 2015 - 12:22PM

    More than 1 billion dollars spent on Metro bus projects in Lahore, Islamabad and very soon in Multan.
    Shame on PMLN for this beggar mindset.
    Go beg from overseas Pakistanis, they’ll help you more!

    Recommend

  • tanveer bhalli
    Jan 10, 2015 - 12:45PM

    corruption is major issue in this regard. if we wana go ahead we will have to stop this.. we dont need any us aid.for a year dont give any funds to ur mna and mpa,s . and spend this on idps. no doubt members of assembly dont want this.. then let my finance minister to beg and beg.

    Recommend

  • khan
    Jan 10, 2015 - 1:05PM

    v should never trust on our enemies

    Recommend

  • Someone
    Jan 10, 2015 - 1:24PM

    @Dipak:
    ‘they created’???……….ttp came into being in 2007……

    Recommend

  • Wellwisher
    Jan 10, 2015 - 1:32PM

    Dragging India into this is very very irrelevant. More over to commit funds even before the completion of cleanup operation is highly not advisable. That is what they are holding back their money for now.
    Don’t you think that the operation would be complete only when the madrassahs are restrained and the country becomes secular?

    Recommend

  • Citizen26
    Jan 10, 2015 - 3:54PM

    US has done absolutely right by not giving any donations for IDPs. They are our own Pakistani people not refugees from some foreign country. We ourselves should raise funds for our own people. Pakistan with a GDP $+230 billion can easily raise $800 million for its people. And its a shame to see our govt asking foreign govts for aid for its own civilians . If govt only does a tax audit of 276 Parliamentarians we will definitely raise $+2 billion in few days. Lastly the ones who have given donations May God Bless them and have His mercy on them and gives us as a nation an ability to pay them back for their favors. Amen.
    Lastly as a suggestion Pakistani govt can request US to provide their best audit and consultancy companies to Pakistan so auditors can help us identify corrupt tax evading politicians and consultants can suggest efficient ways of running govt departments.

    Recommend

  • Roona Laila
    Jan 10, 2015 - 4:38PM

    @AVMPolpot:

    Well said ..I agree 100% ..but a more appropriate term for the Honorable Minister would be “Bayghairat ” that is Urdu for without honor .

    Recommend

  • AbuBakr
    Jan 10, 2015 - 5:15PM

    @Dipak:Why are hindus still stuck in inferiority complex even after so many years?

    Recommend

  • reader
    Jan 10, 2015 - 5:35PM

    this is rather quite strange since main mumbai attack master mind mr david coleman headly is not on pakistani soil rather on american soil. and his israeli co travelers are not on pakistani soil either. if u r in doubt plz utilize ‘google’ for your service.

    Recommend

  • reader
    Jan 10, 2015 - 5:36PM

    this is another addition to US great hall of shame i must say, a record breaking streak

    Recommend

  • woody
    Jan 10, 2015 - 7:47PM

    If you had launched the N Waziristan operation ten years ago or even 5 years ago the USA would have paid for the entire cost of the operation … but you decided to wait until the USA stopped combat role and announced departure. That’s your decision – live with it. BTW Sharif made an announcement right after the operation started saying that no outside help would be needed for the displaced people – that’s another decision you should live with.

    Recommend

  • AA
    Jan 11, 2015 - 12:10AM

    @Dipak:
    Pakistan did not invade Afghanistan to incite insurgency, nor did Pakistan send 100,000 military strongs in to a small valley to silence people’s voice with the barrel of gun. When you force your will on people and try to mute their voice it produce violent reactions.

    Pakistan had been facing spillover of others created mess. Take off your tainted glasses and step out of prejudice to see the reality. To eliminate violence just like fire one need to remove the burning source. You can not control flames if there is a source continue to burn. People can not be forced to a prescribed “peace,” there has to be a persuasive formula. Nothing can stand against people’s freedom of choice. Terror is not acceptable in any shape or form, but killing people perpetuate killing whether by state or by individual. We must also see that state killings should also stop. Free Afghanistan, free Kashmir of occupation there will be no reason left for recruitment of young blood and the supply line will ultimately dry out.

    Recommend

  • Xoxo
    Jan 11, 2015 - 12:56AM

    Pakistan army took 10 years before starting attack on terrorists on its western border. Big chunk of cost of this fight is paid with US aid. But Pakistani army think it deserves a pad on the back for the doing its duty.

    Now Pakistani govt wants money to handle terrorist affected citizens. Isn’t it responsibility of the govt to raise cash and fight terrorists and support citizens within its border?

    How can Pakistani people constantly demonize US, but are perfectly ok with army & govt that ask for alms to handle internal issues?

    Recommend

  • George
    Jan 11, 2015 - 3:45AM

    @AbuBakr:
    Check mate you will find where india stands
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIg4jyR54fg

    Recommend

  • Jan 11, 2015 - 4:35AM

    China has a $3 Trillion Forex. Can’t it spare a few millions for its best friend?

    Don’t tell me China is treating Pakistan like its treating its other best friend – North Korea, which is dirt poor, but has all the missiles and nukes, just like Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Schabboo Khan
    Jan 11, 2015 - 5:28AM

    If the terrorist organizations can collect funds through “chanda” boxes why can’t the PTI, PML and other political parties?

    Recommend

  • Siraj Ahmed
    Jan 11, 2015 - 9:05AM

    Can someone tell me why China never gives us any donation money when USA gives billions of every year? Is China ‘all weather’ or only ‘Fair weather’ friend?

    Recommend

  • Sri Varahadev
    Jan 11, 2015 - 9:51AM

    Selective reporting by APP.

    What APP forgot to mention is that Admiral Kirby at this very same press briefing said that Pakistan was a long time sanctuary for terrorist groups. The exact words used were:

    “The — the sanctuary that these — some of these groups enjoy in Pakistan has long been an issue of concern for us, it’s long been a topic of discussion with our Pakistani counterparts”.

    The US Department of Defence transcript is here:

    http://www.defense.gov/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=5563

    Recommend

  • truthbetold
    Jan 11, 2015 - 10:41AM

    Instead of begging, isn’t it better to divert $1Billion from the $3B that Pakistan spends annually on nuclear bombs to support its own citizen?

    Recommend

  • Jan 11, 2015 - 11:14AM

    Dipak@AA:
    Pakistan has been facing spillover of self created mess over 67 years. The destruction has been caused by the Feudal, Military and religion twisting Mullahs. Unless you recognize your problems, you will continue to stay in StoneAge.

    Recommend

  • shahbax
    Jan 11, 2015 - 12:03PM

    worthless and coward american policies…

    Recommend

  • shahbax
    Jan 11, 2015 - 12:04PM

    worthless and coward american policies…its their nature

    Recommend

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