ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday confirmed that an inquiry was underway against those officials in Economic Affairs Division (EAD) who allegedly provided wrong information on Tokyo’s disbursements for a high-level meeting between US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Halbrooke and President Asif Ali Zardari.
“Yes, we are looking into matter and will settle it accordingly,” Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, said during a press conference when she was asked whether an inquiry was underway against those who provided wrong information about Tokyo’s disbursements or not.
But the minister was of the view that there was no ‘accounting error’ done by Pakistani side and added in the same breath that the lack of clarity arose because it was difficult to differentiate between lending programme in the pipeline and fresh commitments.
She further explained that the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) was not meant for making pledges and Tokyo’s session paved the way for making pledges in April 2009. “Through FoDP process, Pakistan achieved political support that translated into getting market access from European Union (EU),” she added.
However, US authorities confirmed to this scribe that this issue did come under discussion during the last visit of Mr Halbrooke to Islamabad. It is relevant to mention here that the US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, ‘embarrassed’ President Asif Ali Zardari and Islamabad’s economic team by pointing out a whopping difference of $700 million in figures given by Islamabad regarding the amounts already disbursed by FoDP.
The EAD had shown an approximate disbursement of $325 million from FoDP whereas an agitated Holbrooke is said to have hit the ceiling as according to his figures, the amount had already crossed the $1 billion mark, leaving a gaping difference of $700 million between the figures of both sides.
This yawning gap, according to highly placed sources, was pointed out by Richard Holbrooke during his meeting with none other than President Asif Ali Zardari. A rightly indignant president ordered an immediate probe into the matter and after careful rechecking, it was found that Holbrooke was right after all and the $700 million was promptly rectified and reconciled by the relevant authorities.