The United States and Pakistan are engaged in a billing dispute, with Washington rejecting over 40% of the claims submitted by Islamabad as expenses to fight al-Qaeda and other terrorists along the Afghanistan border.
According to internal Pentagon documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the US is increasingly suspicious of what it sees as Islamabad’s mixed record against militants.
The WSJ said Washington has also quietly rejected more than 40% of the claims submitted by Pakistan as compensation for military gear, food, water, troop housing and other expenses. Those records detail $3.2 billion in expense claims submitted to the US for operations from January 2009 through June 2010.
According to the documents and interviews with officials, Pakistan has routinely submitted requests that were unsubstantiated, or were deemed by the US to be exaggerated or of little or no use in the war on terror, underscoring what officials and experts see as a deep undercurrent of mistrust between both nations.
“This is about how much money Pakistan can extract,” said Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser for the United States Institute of Peace, an independent research organisation funded by Congress.
Pakistani officials deny they are trying to milk the US, and say that the increased American scrutiny has sent the message to the Pakistanis that Washington considers the army to be full of cheats. A senior Pakistani official called this “detrimental to bilateral trust,” adding that while Islamabad understands the need for some scrutiny, the US has gone too far.
“People have to give a receipt for every cup of tea they drink or every km they drive,” said the official.
Meanwhile, US officials say that Pakistani claims have been rejected for a number of reasons, including failure to confirm that expenses were incurred in support of American operations in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism.
The following article written by Arshad Mahmood appeared in the ‘Daily AajKal’ on this issue is also a good read.