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GAO: U.S. Oversight of Civilian Assistance to Pakistan Can Be Further Enhanced

Author: Charles Michael Johnson
February 7, 2011


The United States Government Accountability Office outlines methods in which assistance to Pakistan could be better strategized.



Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the effort to combat terrorism and violent extremism. Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorists have used parts of Pakistan to plan and launch attacks on Afghan, U.S., and NATO security forces in Afghanistan, as well as on Pakistani citizens and security forces in Pakistan. Enhancing the effectiveness of civilian assistance to Pakistan is one of the U.S. government's top foreign policy and national security priorities. Foreign assistance is vital to help the government of Pakistan overcome the political, economic, and security challenges that threaten Pakistan's long-term stability. Since 2002, the United States has provided over $18 billion in foreign assistance and reimbursements to Pakistan, about two-thirds of which has been security-related.

In October 2009, Congress passed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009,1 which authorizes up to $1.5 billion a year for development, economic, and democratic assistance (henceforth referred to as "civilian assistance") to Pakistan for fiscal years 2010 through 2014. In the act, Congress declares that the United States requires a balanced, integrated, countrywide strategy to support Pakistan's efforts that does not disproportionately focus on security-related assistance. The act authorizes civilian assistance for a wide range of activities, including projects to build the capacity of government institutions, promote sustainable economic development, and support investment in people through education and health programs. The act also encourages, as appropriate, the use of Pakistani organizations to provide this assistance. In several reports and testimonies since 2008, GAO identified the need to improve planning, monitoring, documentation, and oversight of U.S. assistance to Pakistan. For example, in previous reports we have noted the need to increase oversight and accountability for Pakistan's reimbursement claims for Coalition Support Funds2 and to improve planning, performance, and monitoring documentation of U.S. development assistance to Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

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