ISLAMABAD, Feb 25: A recent report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) accuses Pakistan Navy of submitting “duplicative charges” for transport facilities provided in aid of war against terror.

The double billing was detected during an audit by the Office of the Defence Representative at the US embassy which pointed out that Pakistan Navy charged $19,000 per vehicle per month as reimbursement claims for a fleet of at least 20 passenger vehicles.

“These claims appeared to contain duplicative charges for a fleet of fewer than 20 passenger vehicles,” says the GAO report.

The report titled “Securing, stabilising and developing Pakistan’s border area with Afghanistan,” contains details of re-imbursements made available to Pakistan’s military.

According to the report, Pakistan’s military has been the largest recipient of US funding from 2002 to 2008 with estimated 70 per cent of $12.3 billion going to the defence coffers as reimbursements or assistance.

The report reveals that of the total $12.3 billion assistance to Pakistan, the military received $8.7 billion as reimbursements and assistance since 2002, an amount provided in addition to the covert funding provided for intelligence operations.

The GAO report raises serious questions about billions of dollars which Pakistan’s army claims it did not receive. However, a two star Pakistan general said: “Pakistan army did not receive more than 10 per cent of the much talked about coalition support fund of $6.4 billion.”

However, if the details made public by the investigative arm of the US Congress are to be believed, there are serious differences over the payment issues between Pakistan’s military and the US.

The $8.7 billion payments, which the report says were made to Pakistan’s military to advance US strategic goals in Pakistan, included $1.5 billion as foreign military financing and $6.5 billion as Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

CSF payments have been used since fiscal year 2002 to reimburse a broad range of Pakistani military operations, including navy support for maritime patrols and interdiction operations; air force support for combat air patrols, reconnaissance and close air support missions, airlift support, and air traffic control; army military operations in the Fata; and increased management requirements at the Joint Staff Headquarters.

Reimbursements have also been made for what the report says Operation Al Mizzen, a major deployment of army troops to combat Taliban and Al Qaeda.The report says Pakistan is the largest recipient of US Coalition Support

Fund used to reimburse 27 coalition allies. But despite six years of US and Pakistani government efforts, Al Qaeda has regenerated its ability to attack the United States and continues to maintain a safe haven in Fata.

As Pakistan’s military claims it is yet to get a full reimbursement of its coalition support activities, the GAO report highlights reasons for holding back some of the payments, pending implementation of stringent verification procedures.

“Where audits have been completed covering about $5.7 billion in military and development assistance, GAO and the Defence and USAID inspectors general have raised accountability and oversight concerns, such as the ability of the US government to work with the Pakistani government to validate the use of US funds,” says the report.

It says the US Defence Department did not obtain detailed documentation to verify that claimed costs were valid, actually incurred, or correctly calculated.

Citing an example, the report says that as of May 2008, the US Defence Department paid over $2 billion in Pakistani reimbursement claims for military activities covering January 2004 through June 2007, without obtaining sufficient information that would enable a third party to recalculate these costs.

To overcome the problems of accountability, the report says, Pakistan and the US have agreed to meet every six months to discuss the issues relating to Coalition Support Funds. As part of the agreement, a new review of Pakistan’s claims was to take place in February this year.

The new measures for processing claims of Pakistan military to which the Pakistani officials have agreed to include: provision of a monthly operational summary of Pakistan army, air force and navy actions in support of US military operations; additional documentation and cost methodology information for the May 2008 claim; feedback on the proposed submission format within 30 days of receipt; and beginning with the May 2008 claim, provide additional information or documentation for all disputed claims within 90 days to substantiate claims deferred or disallowed by the Office of the Defence Representative in the US embassy, Centcom, or the Defence Comptroller.

The report points out that Pakistan had used Foreign Military Financing to purchase military equipment, such as Cobra helicopters and Harris radios and to upgrade its F-16 fighter aircraft.

Interestingly, the report points out that the US plans to train, equip and establish 16 new Frontier Corps units of about 650 personnel each has been delayed due to a deteriorating security situation in Frontier where the training centres were to be established.

Moreover, the US Defence Security Development Plan faces a shortfall of approximately $167.5 million, about 73 per cent of its funding goal for fiscal year 2009.

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