US anti-terror aid for Pakistan cut by $50m

29 01 2009

Source: Daily Times, India Today

LAHORE: The United States has paid Pakistan $100 million for its frontline-state role in the war on terror, against an originally planned amount of $150 million, a private TV channel reported on Monday. Talking to the media in a ceremony of Pakistan Microfinance Network in Islamabad, Finance Adviser Shaukat Tareen said the reason for the reduced funding was a new payment system in the US. He said the government was in contact with the US administration and was expecting to receive a positive response in this regard, the channel said. –daily times monitor.

The US has deducted $55 million out of the $156 million bill set by Pakistan for rendering its military services to fight against Taliban and Al Qaeda in volatile bordering tribal areas adjacent to war-torn Afghanistan.

Shaukat Tarin, a financial advisor in the prime minister’s office, said the US had “changed the format” for money released under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for Islamabad, resulting in a “massive” deduction.

Pakistan, a key US ally in the fight against terrorism, has mobilised its more than 100,000 troops in tribal areas to contain Islamic militants launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan, and bills US for the expenditure.

The cut in its reimbursements is a setback to the civilian government led by President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto.

Tarin said Islamabad had taken the matter of the deducted money with Washington.

Pakistan joined the US-led international alliance against terrorism after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, with Islamabad getting some $297 million every year since 2003, in the form of Foreign Military Grants to quell the Taliban militancy.

But the authorities in Washington have said repeatedly that Islamabad was not doing enough to control Islamic insurgency in its ungoverned tribal region.

The new US government, led by President Barack Obama, has vowed to focus more on Pakistan in its policy to defeat Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. In its efforts, the new administration would link Pakistan’s aid with the security in the border region in Afghanistan, the White House said in a policy statement last week.

Pakistan, which has recently avoided default by obtaining a $7.6 billion loan package from the IMF, is relying heavily on US to revive its economy.

The US has so far provided between $10 and $11 billion of aid for social development as well as in form of military aid. But Pakistan says it has suffered financial losses many times more than it has collectively received aid from American and its western allies after becoming front line state in the ongoing war against terrorism.

World Bank comes to Nepal Maoist guerrilla army’s aid

7 08 2008

Source: Sindh Today

Kathmandu, Aug 5 (IANS) The World Bank has come to the aid of Nepal’s endangered peace process, offering a bounty of Nepali Rs.3.350 billion for the upkeep of the Maoists’ once dreaded guerrilla army as well as the rehabilitation of the thousands of people affected by the 10-year communist uprising.

Nepal’s peace and reconstruction ministry Tuesday said the World Bank aid would be utilised for the nearly 19,000-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Maoists, who this month threatened to revolt if the government did not immediately release funds for them.

A part of the aid would also be used to pay Rs.100,000 each to the families who lost their kin during the ‘People’s War’ or were maimed or forced to flee their home.

The PLA, whose might helped the Maoists win their war against Nepal’s powerful king, have been in dire straits since the signing of a peace pact two years ago that saw them confined to 28 makeshift cantonments.

‘The PLA is up to its neck in debt,’ Maoist lawmaker and PLA deputy commander Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ told IANS. ‘For 13 months, the government did not pay them the monthly salary of Rs.3,000 it had promised. Even the daily food allowance of Rs.60 is worthless today, given the mounting price rise.’

Faced with a raging monsoon and absence of safe drinking water, doctors and medicines, the PLA camps have been reporting outbreaks of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. The camps leak and some are threatened by nearby rain-swollen rivers.

There are new mothers among the combatants and the camp chiefs say they are struggling to get nutrition for the mothers and newborns.

The PLA was promised that it would be merged with the Nepal Army soon after the election and the formation of a new government.

However, while the election was postponed from 2006 to April 2008, there is still no sign of a new government almost four months later.

This month, another Maoist lawmaker and PLA deputy commander, Barsha Man Pun ‘Anant’ raised the plight of the PLA in the caretaker parliament, warning that the government could face a revolt if their woes were not addressed immediately.

There has also been growing bitterness between the Maoists and the army over the stopping of state allowances to the PLA.

The Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily Tuesday alleged that the finance ministry stopped funds to the cantonments on the instructions of Nepal Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katuwal.

The general has openly opposed the government pledge to merge the PLA with the state army, saying that the army would induct people only if they met the international yardsticks of physical, mental and psychological fitness.