Islamabad: Pakistan chastised the United States over its threats to hold up coalition support fund reimbursements, saying the amount belonged to Islamabad and its disbursements should be speeded up.
“It is Pakistan’s money and belongs to the people of Pakistan. It is not a charity or donation. We will recover every outstanding dollar,” said Finance minister Ishaq Dar at a press conference on Wednesday. He said it was not Pakistan of the past and promised to get this money within two to four weeks.
The minister was asked to comment on a background briefing to journalists by the US Embassy in Islamabad in which US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel was reported to have asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Raheel Sharif to keep land routes open for US and Nato cargo, otherwise CSF reimbursements could be held up.
In his opening remarks, Mr Dar said some visible payments were due over the next few months. These would improve the country’s reserves position, he said, mentioning $850 million from the US on account of CSF among them.
He said disbursement of $381m from the US was due this month, while bills for the January-March period had been submitted to the US. About $790m is due from the US for eight months of previous services. He said the government was in talks with the US for early reimbursements.
The finance minister said in his recent meeting with Mr Hagel, he impressed that “these delays in CSF payments are not proper”. Mr Dar wondered how the agreements were finalised in the past with the US, saying these payments should have automatically gone into an Escrow account.
The minister said it was strange that Pakistan was still fighting for reimbursements it had expended 14 months ago. He said he had also directed the quarters concerned to submit bills of up to Sept 30 immediately to the US. “Therefore, total outstanding amount against the US is about $1.5 billion now”.
Mr Hagel appreciated his position and asked “us to address our lethargy in submission of bills and they would fast-track disbursements”, he added.