By Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jehangir Tareen has received American funding of over Rs40 million through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for his private business firm and family NGO working in Lodhran from where he is poised to contest the upcoming general elections instead of Rahim Yar Khan.
When contacted, the PTI leader, who heads the party’s policy wing and think tank, confirmed that his Tareen Education Foundation (TEF) and Ali Tareen Farm got the money from the USAID, but said he received the funding before he joined Imran Khan’s squad.
The TEF got approximately Rs20.75 million grant from the USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme (SGAFP). The Ali Tareen Farm (ATF) received Rs20 million from another USAID project called FIRMS.
Documents show that the TEF is a society, set up by Tareen in 2010, to work for improvement of education in Lodhran. In the same year of 2010, the two-time member of the National Assembly, Tareen, fell out with his close relative, Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood, a powerful political figure of Rahim Yar Khan, and decided to contest elections from Lodhran where he also has the ATF.
Tareen started working through the TEF for improvement of schools in six union councils of Lodhran in order to improve his visibility in NA-154 constituency.
While the SGAFP provided the grant of about Rs20.75 million to the TEF, the NGO’s contribution to project is proposed to be Rs14 million, which will be spared by Tareen’s business concerns. Tareen launched himself in this constituency in a gathering of TEF in 2011, using the US funds to further his political prospects, according to the available record. The board of management of the TEF, registered in Lahore under 1860 Societies Act in April 2010, comprises Tareen’s daughter Mareem, and some friends and employees.
The SGAFP are two grant programmes launched by the USAID to help Pakistani communities implement their initiatives. Grants under the US Ambassador’s Fund for projects of up to one year time duration support broad impact community level initiatives. Grants under the USAID’s Small Grants Programme for projects of one to three-years time duration support promising proposals and pilot initiatives, which are consistent with USAID’s strategic priorities.
Documents showed that thirty government schools in district Lodhran, adopted by the TEF, are being upgraded by these US funds. The FIRMS gave the grant to the ATF under its Mango Muawan project for developing and processing export quality mangos, and help them get international certification for mango export, which went a long way in furthering Tareen mango export business.
Tareen said that both the programmes were signed with USAID before he got associated himself with the PTI. He said first programme of ATF was regarding export of mangoes adding that the USAID planned to export fresh mangoes to US. This agreement was signed in 2010 and came to end in 2011.
“The ATF is one of the leading farms in Pakistan considering its technology and management. As a result of this deal, we exported Pakistani mango to the US and the first consignment of the fruit went from my farm. This deal benefited Pakistan’s economy and mango growth,” Tareen said.
He said that he has spent a lot of money from his own pocket for the TEF and adopted 85 government schools in Lodhran, which are not private. He said most of the money spent on this project came from his resources and he provided 100 teachers in the schools, which were facing such shortage.
Tareen said he spent around Rs70 million per annum from his pocket. He said the USAID had a project under which they used to construct new rooms in government schools. The TEF signed an agreement with USAID for building 34 new rooms and boundary walls in these schools in 2011. This project facilitated the children of the poor, who are now studying in the good environment. This was a one-year programme and ended on Oct.30, 2012.
On a political note, the PTI said that since the PTI has ideological differences with US on its drone attacks and its intervention in Pakistan, he has stopped making any deal with any US organisation. “I have many other options and offers but I will not indulge into any deal with US now.” Previously his strategy was: American dollars are good, policy is bad.
Courtesy: The Gulf Today