Kerry calls for tight check on Pak non-military aid fearing rampant govt corruption

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Washington, May 28 (ANI): Worried over the rampant corruption in Pakistan's government establishments, a top US senator has urged the State Department to keep a tight control over the 1.45 billion dollar aid, which would be handed over to that country in 2010.

In his letter to the State Department, which was published in the Boston Globe, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry said that Pakistanis are already apprehensive regarding the massive aid being misused or diverted, which would thus dent all efforts being made by Washington to help Pakistan come out of its myriad troubles.

"Among the Pakistani population there is already a fear that the funds will merely enrich the corrupt elite. Channeling so much of the money through untested institutions so quickly could serve to confirm these suspicions," the newspaper quoted Kerry, as saying.

The non-military aid is part of a landmark, five-year 7.5 billion dollar assistance package, which is known as the Kerry-Lugar aid, to Pakistan that Kerry pushed through Congress last year.here is a difference of opinion among US officials over how the funds should be disbursed to Pakistan. While President Obama's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke intends to funnel more than 50 percent of the funds directly through Pakistan's government or local Pakistani organizations, bypassing the American organizations and companies, Kerry fears that Pakistani organizations might not be ready to spend so much money and that incidents of corruption in Pakistan will make accountability a challenge.

"The danger is much greater than merely the possibility of a portion of funds being poorly spent. If significant portions of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman funds are, for example, siphoned off to private bank accounts, political support for continued appropriation of the money could evaporate in Washington and Pakistan," Kerry wrote in his letter addressed to Holbrooke.

Responding to Kerry's warnings and apprehensions, Holbrook's deputy Dan Feldman said the State Department would make sure that transparency and accountability is maintained concerning the aid being offered to Islamabad.

"We're always open to ways to operate in a manner that enhances sustainability, transparency, and accountability, as Senator Kerry has called for, and which are already core precepts that we have built into our assistance programmes,'' the newspaper quoted Feldman, as saying. (ANI)

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