ISLAMABAD - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has stopped direct financing to religious seminaries and evolved a mechanism to deliver development assistance to Pakistan through the United Nations as part of major bilateral initiative to check and curb flow of terror financing.

Well-placed diplomatic sources confided to The Nation that Riyadh has evolved a transparent mechanism of delivering development aid to Pakistan, a move that comes after Pakistan unveiled National Action Plan (NPA) in the wake of terrorist attack on Army Public School Peshawar last year that left more than 150 people dead.

With the new resolve to fight terror, Islamabad asked Riyadh to help stop funding by private individuals through “informal channels” in order to choke off funding for terror groups.

Addressing Pakistan’s concerns, Riyadh has taken a set of measures including transparent mechanism to deliver development assistance to Pakistan directly through the United Nations.

Riyadh has recently launched a project about Reconstruction of Bridges and Irrigation Canals (RBIC) in Swat district through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in a bid to support the successful implementation of Pakistan’s peace building, humanitarian and development efforts.

The project costing about $3 million envisages construction of eight pedestrian bridges, benefitting 21,105 people and rehabilitation of two irrigation canals servicing 25,000 acres of land in Kalam area of Swat district.

Sources said that the project is developed by UNOPS Pakistan as a means of delivering assistance to the local communities through reconstruction and rehabilitation of pedestrian bridges and irrigation canals. Overall 90% of the construction work on 6 bridges has been completed.

Shahgram Bridge is 100% complete, while contracts for 2 bridges (due to change of sites) are being finalised with completion of topographic survey for irrigation channels.

Contract for Godar Kas irrigation channel has been awarded. Contract for Ashuran Canal is being finalised.

The UNOPS is the only UN agency in Kalam that is implementing the largest bridges and irrigation channels project.

Interestingly, a community conflict resulted into relocation of Paleer and Karglow Bridges that led to the change of sites to Bonyo and Phunkia Bridges respectively upon suggestion of assistant commissioner Kalam, Swat. Consequently damaged infrastructure including roads and temporary bridges has adversely affected the timely delivery and transportation of construction material to the sites.

The ITB for reconstruction of irrigation canals was issued; however, due to lack of local supplier’s capacity to bid properly for these tasks no compliant bid was received for Ashuran Irrigation Canal and the project had to be re-advertised resulting in delay in project implementation. Other risks include deterioration in security situation and adverse weather conditions in the field area.

Sources said that Riyadh’s new initiative to help Pakistan in reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas which have been reclaimed by Pakistan from the non-state actors would be followed by other Gulf countries to curb all means of funding reaching terror outfits.