US mulls audit office in Islamabad to keep tab on aid usage

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Washington, Jun.14 (ANI): Following serious concerns being raised over the suspected misuse of the Kerry Lugar funds by Pakistan, the United States is planning to set up a separate audit office in Islamabad to keep a check over utilization of the huge financial aid being given to that country.

According to diplomatic sources, the audit office would monitor all assistance programmes under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and the Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Capability Fund (PCCF).

The office, similar to what is already working in Afghanistan, would report to the Office of Inspector General in Washington and would employ two auditors, programme analysts and local staff recruited in Islamabad, The Dawn reports.

However, Pakistani officials are not perturbed over reports regarding such an audit office being set up by the Obama Administration.

"It is part of their internal process. Their programme for Pakistan is America's largest civilian aid package, so it is only natural that they would like to monitor it," a Pakistani diplomat said on conditions of anonymity.

On the other hand, US officials said there is nothing new in such an accountability bureau being established in Pakistan, as there are several of them already working in other countries as well.

"Pakistan is not being singled out," a US official said.

It may be noted that influential US Senator John Kerry had recently written a letter to President Obama's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke raising concerns over Pakistan's intentions concerning the use of the massive aid being given to the country.

Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed fears of a major portion of the fund ending up in accounts of the corrupt elite of Pakistan.

"The potential for misuse is significant enough to raise warning flags about the pace of funnelling funds through institutions without a strong track record of transparent, accountable, and effective money management or significant experience in the successful delivery of projects," his seven-page letter to Holbrooke stated. (ANI)

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