Relief account in PM’s name arouses suspicion
KARACHI: The Pakistan embassy in Kuwait had raised suspicions of corruption by formally approaching the Kuwaiti government for permission to open a bank account in the name of the prime minister to collect donations for internally displaced persons.
The June 2009 US diplomatic cable, accessed by Dawn through WikiLeaks, said that a counsellor from the Kuwaiti ministry of foreign affairs (MFA), Rashed Al-Hajri, told an American official that the Pakistan embassy wanted to open the account in the name of the prime minister rather than the embassy or the government of Pakistan.
Mr Hajri also said the MFA had confirmed with the Kuwaiti embassy in Islamabad that the Pakistan government had made similar requests to other countries. “The GoK (government of Kuwait) was considering the request,” he said, but speaking personally he expressed concern about the “potential for corruption that this would entail”.
The US official then asked Washington whether the Pakistan government had approached the American government with the same request “in order to `collect donations` for IDPs” and sought any advice to pass back to the Kuwait government on responding to such a request.
It is not clear from the cable, however, whether the Pakistan government wanted to set up an account in the prime minister’s name or for a relief fund named after the prime minister. The text of the cable, however, strongly implies the former. Kuwait had till then not made any decision about direct government-to-government assistance to Pakistan for IDPs. Al-Hajri said that the MFA had brought the issue to the attention of the cabinet, but there had not yet been a decision on the matter.
The Kuwait Red Crescent (KCR), however, had made preparations to provide 20,000 tents and 10,000 packages of foodstuffs, cooking utensils, blankets and hygienic supplies. KRC President Barges Al-Barges explained that the KRC had started setting aside funds when the crisis started.
He had been surprised by ICRC’s “relative slowness in making the appeal” and had written to the ICRC to speed up the process. The two were now coordinating aid delivery, but the ICRC “wanted to be in charge”.
Al-Bahar explained that the Kuwait Fund had already agreed on an earthquake reconstruction project worth 14.3m Kuwaiti dinars ($50m) for Pakistan. The only thing delaying the start of the project, he said, was the security situation in Pakistan, which was preventing Kuwait Fund staff from travelling to the country to sign the loan agreement.
As a way to speed up project implementation, he added, the Kuwait Fund was approving procurement for the project in coordination with Pakistan government.
The government could start procurement and be reimbursed by the Kuwait Fund, once the loan agreement was signed.
Cable referenced: WikiLeaks # 214294