'Pak using US money to counter India'

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Washington, Dec 24: A large chunk of the US aid, intended to fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban, has been used by Pakistan in financing weapons systems designed to counter India, Bush administration and military officials said.

There were very few controls over the money that the US had sent to Pakistan, they said, calling for the complete revamp of the strategy to improve the Pakistani military. The US provided five billion dollar to Pakistan through a program 'Coalition Support Funds', to curb terrorism. Besides, Pakistan receives 300 million dollars per year in traditional American military financing which pays for training and equipment.

Referring to Pakistan's requests for reimbursement, a senior American military official and reviewer of the program said, ''I personally believe there is exaggeration and inflation.'' ''Then, I point back to the United States and say we didn't have to give them money this way,'' the New York Times quoted him, as saying in an interview.

On Thursday, lawmakers in the US sought assurance from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on restoration of democracy in Pakistan.

Pakistan's military depends on Washington for almost one fourth of its entire budget.

The US offered help, but it did not provide advanced American attack helicopters and drones, essential to curb insurgency in the inaccessible tribal areas of Pakistan, the newspaper quoted a retired Pakistani military official, as saying.

The two countries, however, never agreed on any strategic goals that should drive how the money was spent, both the US and Pakistan officials acknowledged.

President George W Bush has been pouring billions of dollars into Pakistan's military to build an effective counter-insurgency force. But, American military officials want tighter controls on such military assistance.


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