- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

U.S. and Pakistani officials are discussing billions of dollars in reimbursements to Pakistan for its role in the U.S.-led war on militants.

Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh alluded to the discussions in remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Wednesday.

“Given the current state of our dialogue with the U.S., I don’t want to get into opening a new controversy about what I think are the numbers and what somebody else thinks are the numbers,” Mr. Shaikh said. “We have had a good discussion, and I think that issue is hopefully going to get resolved in some positive way.”

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. began reimbursing its allies for logistic, military and other expenses in support of U.S. military operations in the war on terror. The payments are known as Coalition Support Funds.

Pakistan has received billions of dollars through such payments.

Pakistan’s government is seeking a reimbursement of $2.6 billion from the U.S., but has not received any Coalition Support Funds for the past 18 months, according to a Pakistani official, who spoke on background.

“No reason has been given for the delay in payments,” the official said. “Our expenses have been verified by U.S. auditors.”

Pakistan has stopped providing reimbursement claims due to a backlog of payments.

The reimbursement issue tops Mr. Shaikh’s agenda in Washington.

The minister will meet Marc Grossman, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, on Wednesday. He met Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides on Tuesday.

The Pakistani official said his government takes the reimbursement issue very seriously.

“This issue will impact the government of Pakistan because we have already incurred this expenditure,” the official said. “If we don’t get reimbursed, it will have an impact on our budgetary allocations.”

Critics of Coalition Support Funds say it has turned the Pakistani army into an army for hire.

• Ashish Kumar Sen can be reached at asen@washingtontimes.com.

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