In response, the Defense Department has disbursed about $80 million monthly, or roughly $1 billion a year for the past six years, in one of the most generous U.S. military support programs worldwide. The U.S. aim has been to ensure that Pakistan remains the leading ally in combating extremism in South Asia.
But vague accounting, disputed expenses and suspicions about overbilling have recently made these payments to Pakistan highly controversial -- even within the U.S. government.
"Padding? Sure. Let's be honest, we're talking about Pakistan, which has a legacy of corruption," adds an U.S. official familiar with past U.S. payments. "But if they're billing us $5 billion and it's worth only $4 billion, and it's in the ballpark, does the bigger picture call for continuing on with a process that does generate significant progress on the war on terror?”
U.S. officials say the payments to Pakistan -- which over the past six years have totaled $5.7 billion -- were cheap compared with expenditures on Iraq, where the United States now spends at least $1 billion a week on military operations alone.
[Excerpt of an article by Robin Wright, Washington Post]