Murphy's Law: Steal Only When You Can Afford To

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October 8,2008:  Pakistan's recent success against the Taliban, along the Afghan border,  is partially the result of their using dozens of helicopters. Two dozen U.S. AH-1F gunships and even more Russian Mi-17 transports have been used heavily. The Pakistani offensive began earlier this year, and one of the first things they had to do was halt the theft of the money the U.S. was providing for the maintenance of those helicopters. Over $7 million a month is provided, along with some American technical experts, to maintain the helicopters. But for over two years, most of that money was stolen by politicians and army commanders, and the helicopters spent much of their time on the ground. But when the order came down to go after the Taliban, the word went out to leave the helicopter maintenance money (or at least most of it) alone so the birds could be made ready to join the fight.

Corruption has long been a major problem in Pakistan. Even in the military, the most disciplined organization in the country, taking a little (or a lot) off the top is an accepted way of doing business. But when there is a major threat, the stealing can stop, or at least abate, for a while.

Every new Pakistani government promises to clean up corruption, but none ever has. Often the new guys will throw some of their predecessors in jail, or even execute a few, but then it's business as usual. The current new government has made more noise about stopping terrorism, so one can assume that the theft will continue.

 


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