'US paying Pak $70-80 million a month'

'US paying Pak $70-80 million a month'

Chidanand Rajghatta
[ 29 Sep, 2006 0251hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

WASHINGTON: A British analyst has stirred a hornet's nest by revealing that the United States is bankrolling Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf to the extent of $70-80 million a month, adding fuel to the dictator's incendiary visit to the West this month.

The unnamed analyst has made the disclosure in a British ministry of defence think-tank paper that has subsequently been disowned by London as "not representing the views of the MoD or the government."

While much attention has been drawn to the analyst's contention that Pakistan's spy agency ISI is supporting terrorism, the portion about the payola for Musharraf, as reported by BBC, has embarrassed Washington, which is already chafing from Musharraf's own disclosure that the US paid bounty money to the Pakistan government for handing over wanted Al Qaida terrorists.

"Musharraf knows that time is running out for him...at some point the US is likely to withdraw funding (and possibly even protection) of him estimated at $70-80 million a month," the analyst wrote, adding, "Without US funding his position will become increasingly tenuous."

While it is possible the analyst might have meant US funding Pakistan (and not Musharraf individually), the latest flap comes on top of Musharraf's own claim that the CIA has paid the Government of Pakistan undisclosed sum of reward money.

He later retracted the claim when faced with questioning arising from the fact that it is illegal for the US to pay governments. He then indicated the payments may have gone to individuals but did not identify the individuals. The Bush administration has refused to comment on the matter.

For all the criticism heaped on Musharraf, he has never been accused of corruption. He evidently lives well within his means, although the Pakistani army typically lavishes enormous perks and privileges on itself.

If the report about the $70-80 million payola for Musharraf is true, then the lolly he would make from his memoir would be peanuts.

He would also join the list of Third World dictators Jordan's late ruler Hussein, Iraq's Saddam Hussain, Panama's Noreiga, Dominican Republic's Trujillo among them who were reported to be on CIA rolls at one time of the other.