Monday 22 January 2018

British aid to Pakistan 'funds Bhutto poll run'

Rob Crilly in Islamabad

Britain is giving £300m (€355m) of taxpayers' money to a controversial programme of cash handouts in Pakistan, which is accused of funding the re-election campaign of Benazir Bhutto's former party.

A leading development economist said the Benazir Income Support Programme was being used to buy support for Mrs Bhutto's widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, and his party.

Ehtisham Ahmad said Britain's Department for International Development (DfID) was pouring money into a scheme riven by "clientelism".

"It is not stolen to the extent to which previous cash transfers were stolen, but this is the mechanism – which is funded partly by DfID – to make friends and influence people. This is the re-election campaign of Mr Zardari, which is funded by DfID," he said. "Well done."

Britain has expanded its assistance in recent years and Pakistan is on course to receive £450m (€533m) per year in UK aid by 2015.

A spokesman for DfID said Britain was politically impartial in Pakistan.

"Our development assistance is based on need and effectiveness, not politics," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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