UK aid ‘helping fund re-election campaign’ of PPP: report

KARACHI: A leading development economist has alleged, in evidence to a parliamentary probe, that the BISP was being used to buy support for Pakistan Peoples Party, a report published in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said.

“The fact that it is called Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) tends to suggest that there is what is called clientelism,” Dr Ehtisham Ahmad, who held several senior positions at the IMF, told The Daily Telegraph. “The more you give the more benefit there is to the party that bears the Bhutto name.”

Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was pouring money into a scheme riven by “clientelism”, according to Ahmad, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.

“It is not stolen to the extent to which previous cash transfers were stolen, but this is the mechanism, which is funded partly by DFID, to make friends and influence people. This is the re-election campaign of Mr Zardari, which is funded by DFID,” he said. “Well done.”

The Select Committee on International Development is due to publish its report into aid to Pakistan on Thursday.

The BISP is disregarded by opposition parties who complain its name suggests many people into believing that the money comes from the Bhutto family rather than the government, the report said.

Moreover, there have been repeated allegations of corruption and claims that PPP officials have obtained lists of beneficiaries for follow-up visits in which families are told to remember where the cash has come from when they vote.

Britain has rapidly expanded its assistance in recent years. Pakistan is on course to becoming the biggest recipient of UK aid, receiving £450m per year by 2015. DAWN

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