WASHINGTON, May 23: Pakistan is the largest recipient of US assistance from a fund created to support Washington’s war on terror, says a new study released on Wednesday. In the first four years after 9/11, Pakistan received more than $3 billion from the Coalition Support Fund.

The report by the Centre for Public Integrity, a Washington-based non-profit organisation, claims that at one point, Pakistan was billing the US government for almost $200 million per quarter for assistance in hunting down terrorists on the Afghan border.

Because of CSF, Pakistan now ranks as one of the largest recipients of US military aid and assistance, rivalling long-time US favourites Israel and Egypt.

“With the possible exception of Iraq reconstruction funds, I’ve never seen a larger blank check for any country than for the Pakistan CSF programme,” Tim Rieser, a key adviser to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and the majority clerk on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on foreign operations, told the surveyors. “CSF is a backwater of lax oversight and poor accountability.”

The report claims that when Senator Jack Reed, another Democrat, returned from an October 2006 trip to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, he noted that “the US Defence Representative Office [in Islamabad] recommends changing the Coalition Support Fund programme to paying for specific objectives that are planned and executed, rather than simply paying what the country bills.”

The CSF programme was created in the series of emergency supplemental appropriations that Congress passed after the 9/11 attacks.

Unlike ordinary US military training and financing programmes, such as the International Military Education and Training programme or the Foreign Military Financing programme, which provide grants, CSF reimburses approved governments for the cost of fuel, ammunition, security and airlift and the like for counterterrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report says that in some countries, human rights have suffered as authoritarian regimes are rewarded for their strategic and political importance. Often times, military aid was given with little oversight by Congress, it said.

The change in priorities often came at the cost of human rights and fiscal accountability, according to the report.

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