Huge CSF arrears

THE US officials often claim of providing huge financial assistance to Pakistan, both civilian and security, but the fact of matter is that it is not even clearing the amount pending against it under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) that is technically not aid but service payments for providing logistical and operational support to the US led military operations in neighbouring Afghanistan.
The fund was actually established after 9/11 but just a cursory look at the amounts released by the US over the years under this head reveals that Pakistan has only received peanuts in exchange of its extraordinary services. In an interview, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail disclosed on Wednesday that over $ 9 billion claims of Islamabad are still pending before US Administration on account of the CSF while Pakistan is expecting reimbursement of mere around $140m or Rs 15.9b from Washington in the next fiscal year. This clearly reflects that the US is withholding amount for the last many years while Pakistan is bearing the expenses of war on terror after getting borrowings from domestic and foreign lenders on which the government is also paying the interest rate from the taxpayers’ money. We understand that time that Pakistan also incorporate the cost of debt servicing on the claims sent out to the US on CSF.
According to Pakistan’s official document Economic Survey for 2017-18, Pakistan has suffered losses to the tune of $126.79b during the last seventeen years. Indeed the war on terror has cost the country heavily both on human and material terms. Now as the country is faced with serious current account deficit and exploring ways to enhance its foreign exchange reserves, it is time that our relevant quarters seriously take up the matter with the US Administration for early reimbursement of the CSF amount. Such a mechanism needs to be developed that ensure timely payment of at least the reconciled amounts. In fact Pakistan is not begging for any financial assistance from the US but seeking the reimbursement for the logistic and operational support it extended to the US. We need to call spade a spade and review the level of cooperation with Washington if it continues to withhold the outstanding amount.

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