- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2011

PAKISTAN

The United States has poured billions of dollars into Pakistan to fight terrorism since 2002, but Pakistani officials “diverted” much of the aid for other purposes, according to classified cables from a U.S. ambassador who served three years in Islamabad.

Anne W. Patterson, ambassador to Pakistan from 2007 to 2010, concluded that Islamabad was failing to meet counterterrorism objectives set by Pakistan and the United States under a program called Coalition Support Funds, used to reimburse other countries for expenses in the war on terrorism. The United States has spent $5.3 billion in reimbursements to Pakistan since 2002.

In a key confidential memo dated Dec. 14, 2007, Mrs. Patterson complained that “we need Pakistan to more vigorously engage in the war on terror.” She also revealed that the U.S. support funds were “not reaching” Pakistani troops, such as the Frontier Corps fighting terrorism along the border with Afghanistan.

Mrs. Patterson cited “multiple instances in which [the embassy] is confident [that] funds have been diverted and that reimbursed claims figures have been seriously inflated.”

The ambassador did not speculate on who diverted the U.S. aid or where the money ended up, according to the cables released by WikiLeaks. The anti-secrecy website sent the cables exclusively to India’s Hindu and Pakistan’s Dawn newspapers, which are reporting daily exposes on the embassy papers.

In her cable, Mrs. Patterson said Pakistan received $55 million for helicopter operations from July 2006 to February 2007, but the embassy “is confident the Army Aviation Command never received” the money.

In another example of diverted money, the United States reimbursed Pakistan for $99 million it claimed in medical evacuation operations, presumably to transport wounded soldiers from the border counterterrorist operations. However, the Frontier Corps never received any medevac services, the ambassador said.

Pakistan also claimed nearly $70 million in expenses for radar maintenance, “although there is no enemy air threat related to the war on terror,” Mrs. Patterson said.

The embassy received a claim for $26 million for “barbed wire and pickets.”

“While these items are no doubt helpful in protecting outposts, the claim figures are highly suspect,” the ambassador said.

Mrs. Patterson complained that the lack of transparency from the Pakistani government keeps the public unaware of the nature of U.S. support in the war on terrorism.

“It fuels the internal argument that the [United States] is ‘paying’ Pakistan to fight a U.S. war - this at a time when the Pakistanis need to accept the direct threat to their own security and sovereignty posed by al Qaeda, Taliban and extremist forces,” she said.

Europe expert tapped for Mexico

President Obama plans to fill the empty post of U.S. ambassador to Mexico with a Foreign Service officer who spent most of his career specializing in European issues and international economic affairs.

Earl Anthony Wayne, currently deputy ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, would replace Carlos Pascual, who resigned in March as the first casualty in the WikiLeaks campaign of releasing classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

Mr. Pascual angered Mexican President Filepe Calderon with cables that questioned the integrity of Mexican security forces in the fight against drug gangs.

The White House this week sent Mr. Wayne’s proposed nomination to the Mexican Foreign Ministry for review, Mexican newspapers reported. Mr. Wayne arrived in Afghanistan in May 2010, after serving three years as ambassador to Argentina.

Most of his career involved European affairs from his posting as a first secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Paris in 1984 to his service as principal deputy assistant secretary for European affairs from 1997 to 2000.

He later served as assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, where duties included efforts to stop the international flow of money to terrorists.

Call Embassy Row at 202-636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.