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Provincial Government In Pakistan Wants Bigger Share Of U.S. Aid

The government of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has rejected the central government's formula for the distribution of U.S. aid money to Pakistan, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told Radio Mashaal on September 21 that the provincial government is unhappy over the share of money being given to the province from the multibillion-dollar Kerry-Lugar bill passed by Congress in June.

He said the provincial government held a meeting on the issue in Peshawar, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital, late on September 20.

"The money given under the Kerry-Lugar bill was meant for terrorism-hit areas," Iftikhar Hussain said. "The bill mentions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and tribal areas. In fact, this bill was approved for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). Despite that, [the Pakistani government] is creating obstacles and only an 11 percent share [of the aid money] is being given to the province, which is not acceptable to us."

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the four provinces comprising the federation of Pakistan. For over a year, the province has suffered the highest-ever incidences of terrorism, bombing, suicide attacks, and targeted killings. In addition, the recent floods have devastated the infrastructure and killed hundreds of people.

"[Senator John] Kerry visited the province and informed [us] that the largest share of the aid money [under the bill] will be given to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA," Iftikhar Hussain said. "Those who prepared the bill are giving the maximum share to us, but those who are in power [in Pakistan] are deciding it according to their whims. Therefore, this is unjust distribution [of the aid money]. We should be given at least 80 percent of the money if it is properly distributed."

Iftikhar Hussain, whose 28-year-old son was shot dead by militants on July 24 for his father's outspoken comments about the Pakistani Taliban, warned that any injustice meted out to the province would harm Pakistan and the international community because of the Taliban's growing influence in the province and tribal areas.

The Kerry-Lugar bill is a nonmilitary aid package offered to Pakistan by the U.S. government for the country's role in the war against terrorism. Under the bill, Pakistan will receive $1.5 billion annually over a period of five years.