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Audit says US aid program failing in NW Pakistan

 A Pakistani girl, plays with her brother outside their makeshift tent in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Muh...

APTOPIX PAKISTAN DAILY LIFE

A Pakistani girl, plays with her brother outside their makeshift tent in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Muh...

A $46 million American aid program aimed at strengthening the government in Pakistan's tribal regions and blunting the appeal of al-Qaida and the Taliban has achieved little since it began two years ago, a U.S. government audit found.
The program is one of several U.S. initiatives in the tribal areas and elsewhere in Pakistan, which is set to receive $7.5 billion in American taxpayer assistance over the next five years.
The audit shows the difficulties facing the Obama administration as it seeks to boost aid to the violence-stricken Pakistani region along the Afghan border. The strategy is to convince impoverished residents that their interests are best served by the government, not by extremists who have seized control of some areas.
The program, run by Development Alternatives Inc., a U.S.-based private contractor, was set up to improve the performance of local aid groups and the government agency that oversees the tribal areas. Both need to be strong to ensure future aid money is spent effectively.
The audit, dated Jan. 28 and posted on the Web site of the inspector general, said "little progress" had been made toward either goal of the program. It said the program "got off to a slow start" and had been delayed by confusion over a proposed change in U.S. government policy to direct money through Pakistani institutions, not contractors.
It said the program had so far spent $15.5 million.
No one from the program was available to comment on the audit. Most employees and contractors for the aid arm of the U.S. government are not allowed to speak to the media.
The audit noted that since 2008 security in the region has deteriorated, with attacks by militants on government and Western targets spiking. All foreign staff had to be withdrawn from Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, after a U.S. aid worker was killed in 2008.


Updated : 2020-12-05 03:03 GMT+08:00