Why there is so much of noise against Kerry-Lugar bill?

by: Iqbal Tareen

There is so much of noise against Kerry-Lugar bill as if this was the first time ever Pakistan is receiving any assistance without strings attached. From the days of Baghdad Pact to SEATO, Ayub Khan’s rule to Zia’s satanic era to recent 9 years of Musharraf’s dictatorship Pakistani state, security forces, business, and urban citizens have been benefactor of begged and borrowed prosperity. It doesn’t matter who do we receive an assistance from whether it is World Bank, Friends of Pakistan, EC, Saudi Arabia, or even from Japan and China it has not been without the nod of either USA or “Soviet Union”.

Almost everyone lives in Pakistan beyond the means even the Mullahs. The only party that has been consistently cheated are the poor people living in rural Pakistan.

We have been struggling for decades to pursue US Congress and White House to link any assistance Pakistan to the restoration and strengthening of representative democracy and independent judiciary in Pakistan. For the first time ever Obama White House has taken a flight from a business as usual and has attempted to subject Pakistan Military brass’s aspirations and temptations under a check.

How is that a threat to 160 million people of Pakistan? And how is that any threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty? Our history proves beyond the shadow of doubt that the real threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty has always risen from within and not from outside. This goes all the way back to 1948 when a few loose cannon generals, politicians, and bureaucrats decided to declare Jihad on Kashmir. That was the day we surrendered our sovereignty to a few uniformed zealots. I am not sure if those who are agitated against Kerry-Lugar bill have even read it through.

If you are one of those who is against this bill because you sincerely find something wrong with it, please come forward and let’s talk about the specific sections. Let us see if together we can discover something drastically unusual and life threatening in this bill that we have not seen in all previous aid packages. As much as Pakistani media, some political leaders, and intellectuals proclaim love for self dignity and honor, Pakistan should refuse any foreign aid because all aids are given to extend the national interests of donor nation or an agency. If it has to accept a foreign aid the Kerry-Lugar bill is the best ever people friendly bill Pakistani nation has been offered. I can fully understand why ambitious Military Generals, and ISI would be ticked off.

Please visit http://www.afjip.org/ index to read the high level text of this bill. Here the Key Provisions of the Kerry-Lugar Bill on Pakistan:

1. Triples foreign assistance to $1.5 billion per year-as a long-term pledge to the people of Pakistan. Authorizes $7.5 billion over the

next 5 years ($1.5 billion annually for FY 2009 -2013) that is intended to emphasize economic growth and development, and advocates an additional $7.5 billion over the subsequent 5 years.

2. De-links military from non-military aid. In the past, security assistance has dwarfed development assistance: the Pakistani military could bypass civilian authorities to focus policy on its institutional interests. Under Kerry-Lugar, economic assistance is no longer the poor cousin to military aid. Rather than locking in a level of such aid which might not be in line with rapidly-changing Pakistani capabilities and commitment, the bill leaves the level of security aid to be determined on a year-by-year basis.

3. Military assistance conditional of annual certification that the Pakistani security forces are:

A. Making concerted efforts to prevent al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups from operating in the territory of Pakistan;

B. Making concerted efforts to prevent the Taliban from using the territory of Pakistan as a sanctuary from which to launch attacks within Afghanistan; and

C. Are not materially interfering in the political or judicial processes of Pakistan.

D. Detailed Pakistan Assistance Strategy Required. Requires the President to submit to Congress a detailed report outlining United States policy and a strategic plan with respect to assistance to Pakistan, including:

i. principal objectives of the United States;

ii. the roles of Pakistan local, regional and national institutions;

iii. amounts allocated to specific projects and programs as well as criteria to measure their effectiveness.

iv. The non-security assistance is intended to be used for projects that benefit the people of Pakistan:

v. Just and democratic governance, including police reform, equipping and training ; independent judicial systems; political pluralism and rule of law; respect for human rights and promotion of independent media; transparency and accountability of government; anti corruption efforts; and countering the drug trade.

vi. Economic freedom, including sustainable economic growth and sustainable use of natural resources; investments in energy and water; employment generation; and worker rights.

vii. Investment in people, particularly women and children, including broad-based public primary and secondary education and vocational training; food security and agricultural development; quality public health; and higher education.

viii. Requires benchmarks for measuring the effectiveness of U.S. assistance, including a systematic, qualitative basis for assessing whether desired outcomes are achieved.

ix. Requires the President to submit a semi-annual report to Congress that describes in detail the assistance provided to Pakistan under this Act and assesses the effectiveness of U.S. assistance thus far, including any incidents of waste, fraud, and abuse.

x. Requires the Secretary of State, after consulting with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, to submit to Congress an annual report on the progress of the Pakistani security forces.

xi. Authorizes new money for administrative expenses, up to $20 million for auditing expenses, and up to $5 million for the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan to provide critical need development or humanitarian assistance.

xii. Urges accountability and transparent reporting of Coalition Support Funds to further clarify purposes and impact.

xiii. Directs the Secretary of State (in consultation with DoD and DNI) to submit to Congress a comprehensive cross-border strategy for the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas.

October 11, 2009

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