US mission to visit Pak to identify areas of fund utilization

     The United States would be sending a high-level team to Pakistan to identify areas and projects for the utilization of the 1.5 billion dollar non-military aid under the Kerry-Lugar bill in order to make sure that the assistance is being used exactly for the purpose it is meant for. According to sources, the US mission would be visiting Pakistan next month. An office is also being set up in Islamabad to supervise and monitor the projects which would be launched for disbursing the assistance, The Daily Times reports. Earlier, the Kerry-Lugar bill, which seeks 1.5 billion dollars of annual assistance to Pakistan for the next five years, was tabled in the US Lower House following the Senate's approval. Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Howard Berman, while welcoming the Senate's decision, tabled the bill in the House of Representatives. The measure triples US democratic, economic, and social development assistance to Pakistan to 1.5 billion dollars a year, with a focus on health and education services. While Pakistan has been pushing for the grants to be given directly to the government, the Obama Administration maintains that it would be channeled through various non-government organizations (NGO's) and other agencies in order to prevent its misuse. The United States has also made it clear that the aid would be stringed with severe accountability measures.

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