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Pakistan Military Rejects Kerry Aid Bill

From an unfazed Associated Press:

Pakistan’s military rejects US aid bill

By Nahal Toosi, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s powerful military rejected U.S. attempts to link billions of dollars in foreign aid to increased monitoring of its anti-terror efforts, complicating American attempts to strike al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on the Afghan border.

Although the U.S.-backed government of President Asif Ali Zardari has the final say on whether to accept the money, the unusual public criticism threatens to force its hand and undermine military cooperation with the Americans just as the Pakistani army prepares for what could be its most important offensive against extremists since the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign began exactly eight years ago.

Any breakdown in intelligence sharing and other types of cooperation would hurt the American fight against a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO commanders say the war there cannot be won unless Islamabad does more to tackle extremists on its side of the border…

The military’s criticism of the bill came in a brief written statement that said senior commanders, including the army chief, "expressed serious concern regarding clauses impacting on national security."

Among other strings, the bill conditions U.S. aid on whether Pakistan government maintains effective control over the military, including its budgets, the chain of command and top promotions.

Some analysts said the military’s statement had little to do with genuine dislike of a bill that stands to help crumbling schools, roads and hospitals. They said the army was sending a message to the Pakistani and U.S. governments about the limits of civilian control in a country that’s been subject to military rule for about half of its 62-year history…

Opposition lawmakers jumped at the opportunity to weaken a president widely viewed as a U.S. puppet, calling on the government to reject the legislation as an unacceptable intrusion into Pakistan’s internal affairs. A recent poll by the International Republican Institute found that 80 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said they did not want the country to assist the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.

The aid bill, which Obama is expected to sign, would triple U.S. nonmilitary assistance to Pakistan, providing $1.5 billion a year over the next five years. U.S. officials say the goal is to alleviate widespread poverty, lessening the allure of Islamist extremists and supporting the country’s transition to democracy.

Zardari has championed the legislation as a break from past U.S. aid packages, which he says came with more strings. He says the bill is proof that Washington is committed to helping the country long-term.

But to many here, it is sign of growing — and unwanted — U.S. influence. In addition to civilian aid, the legislation authorizes "such sums as are necessary" for counterterrorism assistance — but only on several conditions.

Those include yearly certification that Pakistan is making a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups, cooperating in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that its security forces are not subverting the country’s political or judicial processes. Failure to do those things would mean the aid stops flowing.

The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Dick Lugar of Indiana, also calls for strict monitoring of how all the funds are spent. Much of past American assistance to Pakistan has fallen into the wrong hands. Between 2002 and 2008, as al-Qaida regrouped in the country after fleeing Afghanistan, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion in American aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, two Pakistani army generals told The Associated Press recently

On a trip to Washington, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi played down the military’s statement, calling the aid package the "first, very strong signal of a long-term commitment with the people of Pakistan."

But opposition leaders objected to demands that the country dismantle "terrorists bases" in the southwestern city of Quetta — where U.S. officials say Afghan Taliban leaders are based — and the eastern town of Muridke, the home of an Islamist group implicated in attacks on India.

Another potential sore point is language on nuclear proliferation that calls on Pakistan to provide "direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks." That appears to allude to nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is alleged to have spread nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

The outcry over the bill follows a backlash over U.S. plans to add hundreds more embassy staff in Islamabad.

Almeida and other analysts said that in the end Pakistan was unlikely to reject the aid.

"There’ll be a lot of noise, but at the end of the day the bill is about giving Pakistan money, and we need money and we’re probably going to take the money," Almeida said. "But we’re going to do in a way which suggests that we’re taking it under protest."

Another feather in the cap of the Obama administration’s foreign policy cap. They can’t even give away billions of US taxpayers’ dollars without ticking people off.

And, in this case, people whose cooperation we desperately need in our war on terror overseas contingency operations.

Between 2002 and 2008, as al-Qaida regrouped in the country after fleeing Afghanistan, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion in American aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, two Pakistani army generals told The Associated Press recently…

And so naturally the solution is to triple the non-military assistance and put additional strings on the military aid, when the military are desperately trying to save their country from the Taliban.

That makes sense.

But when you have both John Kerry and Joe Biden advising you, how can things possibly go wrong?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 8th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Pakistan Military Rejects Kerry Aid Bill”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    I didn’t know that Pakistan had swiftboats in Vietnam…..

    Or are they just racists?

    (Just sayin’)

  2. proreason says:

    Mushareff was the lynchpin of the War on Terror.

    So they had to get rid of him. “They” is American monarch / social / fasc / stat / commun ists.

    Now things are worse than they have ever been.

    We just haven’t had the medicine delivered yet.

  3. canary says:

    (The Pakistan military complainers above article may be behind these)

    Suicide car bomb kills 41, wounds 100 in Pakistan
    By Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan Oct 9 2009

    PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a crowded market in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar on Friday, killing 41 people. The government responded by saying it had “no other option” but to launch an offensive in the militant stronghold of South Waziristan along the Afghan border.

    The attack in the Khyber Bazaar area also wounded more than 100 people

    “I saw a blood soaked leg landing close to me,” said Noor Alam, who suffered wounds on his legs and face and was at the overwhelmed Lady Reading hospital. “I understood for the first time in my life what a doomsday would look like.”

    It came days after a suicide attack killed five at a U.N. office in the capital, Islamabad and two weeks after another explosion killed 11 in a Peshawar commercial area.

    AP Writer Munir Ahmad contributed to this report from Islamabad.

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