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.