As the saying goes, money and friends don't mix: Internal Pentagon documents have revealed that Pakistan and the US are embroiled in a major dispute over equally major unpaid bills. Washington forks over huge sums of money to Islamabad to finance the fight against al-Qaeda, and the Wall Street Journal reports that US officials have been quietly turning down more than 40% of the claims. Between January 2009 and June 2010, Pakistan billed the US $3.2 billion for military gear, troop housing, food, and related expenses; the US denied $1.3 billion of that.
The US has found many of these expenses to be unsubstantiated, exaggerated, or not related to the war on terror, a revelation that has only deepened mistrust between the two countries. The Journal points to an $8 million payment made for "hygiene and chemical" expenses; Pakistan had invoiced for $50 million. In another case, the US spent millions refurbishing four helicopters to be used to transport troops to fight the Taliban; but three were sent to support peacekeeping in Sudan, an operation that Pakistan is compensated for by the UN. Denial rates were just 1.6% in 2005; in 2009, they hit 44%. One Pakistani official says the US has gone too far: "People have to give a receipt for every cup of tea they drink or every kilometer they drive."