An Associated Press report today says the United States provided funding to a Pakistani Muslim group to organize anti-Taliban demonstrations, which later rallied in support of an extremist who killed a leading liberal politician.
The U.S. government Web site usaspending.gov shows that the Sunni Ittehad Council, received $36,607 in 2009—a finding first reported by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Ed Husain.
A U.S. diplomat said that the embassy had given money to the group to organize the rallies, but that it had since changed direction and leadership. He said it was a one-off grant, and wouldn’t be repeated. He didn’t give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the issue on the record.
The grant was firs reported by the Council on Foreign Relations on its Web site.
Husain reported the situation on his CFR blog (“U.S. Taxpayer Money Goes to Pakistan’s Radicals”).
Last January, the assassination of Salman Taseer by Malik Mumtaz Qadri provoked the response of an organization called the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC). Their defense of Taseer’s murderer made international headlines. Taseer was killed for trying to change Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and for protecting the rights of Christians and other minorities. Yet rather than attempt to bolster Taseer’s supporters, the State Department could only admit that it had funded the SIC to the tune of thirty-six thousand dollars just a year earlier.
Loose change, you may say, but not in Pakistan. Already, Pakistan’s liberal activists are asking if the money cited in the SIC’s offer to buy the assassin’s gun came from its U.S. grant. The joke is poor, but the popular exposure of U.S. government contradictions will stick.