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Corruption charges hit Pakistani `Sesame Street’

by: CNN, Priyanka Boghani

(CNN) – No more “sunny days sweeping the clouds away” in Pakistan as its version of ‘”Sesame Street” gets its funding cut due to fraud charges, according to Reuters.

The United States has withdrawn funding for the Pakistani version of the American children’s television series known for its educational content and colorful puppets.  The U.S. Agency for International Aid received reports of corruption charges on the production company, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, through an anti-fraud hotline, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Exact details of the graft weren’t provided.

The show, which began airing six months ago, features Elmo with a cast of local characters. The funding cut comes just six weeks after the U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter visited the set of “Sim Sim Hamara,” the Pakistani name for the series, “to reaffirm the U.S. Government’s commitment to children’s education in Pakistan,” according to a USAID press release.

The U.S. had originally allocated $20 million to produce the show and $6.7 million of this has already been spent, according to press agency reports.

According to reports from Pakistan Today, the money was used to pay off Rafi Peer’s debts. The funding was also used to award lucrative salaries to family members, many of whom worked in the company.

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