Aid or Reparation?
October 8, 2009
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All along I have argued that an incompetent, corrupt democracy is better than a well disciplined dictatorship and the current debate on Kerry-Lugar bill just proves my point. Never in Pakistan’s history have we debated aid packages, foreign policy and our nation’s subservience to the super power like we do today. I want to commend politicians, journalists and the army generals for chiming in and making this debate vibrant.

I don’t for a minute question the democratic process of debate; what bothers me is the subtext.

I will not tell you that you should read S.1707 in entirety before making up your mind. But if you want to please click here to read Enhanced Partner with Pakistan Act 2009. I am sure you already know but in a nut-shell S. 1707 authorized $1.5 billion annually in non-military assistance to Pakistan from Fiscal Year 2010 through 2014. The bill also authorized “such sums” in annual military training and education, as well as financing funds for the same period. It is controversial because the bill is conditioned on a certification by the Secretary of State, under the direction of the President, that Pakistan is cooperating with the U.S. on certain nonproliferation objectives, in combating terrorism, and that Pakistan’s security forces are not materially interfering in its internal politics. This limitation would be subject to a national security interest waiver. The bill states that certain direct cash security-related assistance and non-assistance payments (reimbursements from the Defense Department) may only be provided or made to civilian authorities of a civilian government of Pakistan, but this limitation is also subject to a national interest waiver.

A point of contention has been a clause that requires transparency and accountability, including semi-annual monitoring reports on assistance provided under the bill, GAO oversight, and audits of assistance by the Inspector General of USAID and the Department of State.

Pakistan has received numerous aid packages in recent past (since 9/11) but this bill is symbolically different; instead of money flowing to Pakistan’s army it goes to civilian institutions. And, that is the major bone of contention.

But the opposition to this aid package has been simmering. As early as April of this year

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gillani had done something historic by categorically declining to accept US aid with conditions that are not in Pakistan’s national interest.

And, the American position has been very clear as well; when President Barack Obama appealed to the Congress after taking office to pass the Kerry-Lugar bill he also warned that there will be no ‘blank’ checks for Pakistan. But he wasn’t sure what restrictions will be proposed by the House legislation. And, neither was Pakistan. And. now that the Kerry-Lugar bill has become an act and awaits President Obama’s signature Pakistan’s media is up in arms denouncing it as the worst aid package ever.

I am told that “we have done so much for the US and we deserve better.” I would agree- Pakistan has been an ally not only since 9/11 but our commitment goes back five decades when our leadership decided to side with capitalism instead of socialism. We have delivered not only terrorists who wanted to harm the US but also defeated Soviet Union in 1980s and opened the back door diplomacy channels with China in 1960s and 70s.

And, we have suffered consequences as well. If we are to speak with a sense of entitlement, should we not seek reparation instead of aid? If we are ready to accept aid, why should we resist audit and controls? Why is it a problem if America wants to engage with Pakistan’s civil society instead of Pakistan army?

There are several questions that need answers and our media pundits seem to be ignoring them and constructing public opinion out of thin air. A show in Pakistan’s leading TV channel showed people from all walks of life from several different cities; everyone opposed the bill. They did not show a single dissenting opinion. Is that fair and accurate reporting?

Here is part of an interview I recorded last week with Prof. Noam Chomsky on the Kerry Lugar bill. He says Pakistan should decide how to use it. And, the aid package should be viewed in the larger perspective of America’s regional interest. He also points out that $1.5 billion is not that large of an amount when you realize that the US spends that much annually on its Embassy in Iraq.

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There are 13 comments

  • Malik Rashid says:

    Refusing aid for education could never be anything noble. Pakistan has been indebted for billions of dollars of military aid. Pakistanis were never told of any conditions that came with those. Assurance that civilian rule continues and national resources are not spent on jihad and proliferation is projected against sovereignty. This is pre-posterous propaganda by the military-rulers of Pakistan.

  • Mohammad Mian says:

    This is an all out attack on pakistani democracy. Kamran Khan who works for Geo (actually represents ISI) and other simillar journalists are making it an issue. Why is army generals sticking their nose? Because they do not want to become irrelavent.

  • Zeemax says:

    The controversial clauses:

    … ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighbouring countries; (B) preventing al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, from operating in the territory of Pakistan, including carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries, closing terrorist camps in the Fata, dismantling terrorist bases of operations in other parts of the country, including Quetta and Muridke, and taking action when provided with intelligence about high-level terrorist targets;

    This is an India specific clause inserted by efforts of the Indian Caucus actively pursuing this since the bill was named Biden-Lugar.

    … the Government of Pakistan is continuing to cooperate with the United States in efforts to dismantle supplier networks relating to the acquisition of nuclear weapons-related materials, such as providing relevant information from or direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks;

    Means get AQ Khan.

    … an assessment of the extent to which the Government of Pakistan exercises effective civilian control of the military, including a description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, the process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration.

    Inserted through lobbying by the PPP Government/Ambassador to gain leverage over the Army which has been attempted by it several times, beginning with the notification to place ISI under Min of Interior, hastily retracted a day later.

    (http://pakistandesk.com/?p=2976 for the final text.

    Compare this with the text as passed by Senate on http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-962

    The Senate text contains none of the controversial clauses. These were added later either by the House or through a conference committee.)

  • Editor says:

    Congressman Gary L. Ackerman, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia issued the following statement:

    “I’ve noted with concern the recent debate in Pakistan concerning the legislation recently passed by the U.S. Congress to strengthen our partnership with Pakistan and to aid that country with some of its most pressing domestic and security concerns.

    “As I said during debate on the legislation in the House of Representatives, I am skeptical about whether this assistance bill truly represents a meeting of the minds between ourselves and the people and the government of Pakistan. Frankly, I doubt that our money can buy us much good will. Nevertheless, recognizing the vital U.S. interests at stake in South Asia in the fight against extremism and terrorism, I felt the Kerry-Lugar bill, for all its flaws, was absolutely necessary.

    “But we can not build a partnership by ourselves. It just can’t be done.

    “If the people of Pakistan really don’t want our assistance; if they don’t want to be our partner in establishing a truly secure and harmonious region; if, after so much effort and sacrifice by our two countries working together, they still don’t even believe that we wish them well—and, worse, are prepared to say so only days after the United States Congress made an unprecedented commitment of long-term assistance—then I suppose we need to face the truth sooner than later.

    “I had concerns about the wisdom of the Kerry-Lugar bill before it was passed. The recent debate in Pakistan has only increased my trepidation.

    “If Pakistan doesn’t want us as a partner, that’s up to them. But should they take such a decision, they should do so knowing full well that our military assistance, advanced technology and intelligence cooperation are not gifts, but the specific consequences of our cooperation. They should likewise be aware that these things are not reserved for them and that American interests in South Asia are not limited to just Pakistan. We don’t sell F-16s and Harpoon missiles to just anyone.

    “Pakistan is a sovereign state. I respect that and I want them to be our partner as an equal. But I have no interest in partnership which exists just in name, or is mostly characterized by suspicion, resentment and political manipulation. In the end, Pakistan, like ourselves, will have to make some hard choices about where their interests really lie.”

  • Pakistani says:

    The central figure in this dispute is that of Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States who has used his influence to incorporate a clause in the bill that will enable the Zardari government to appoint the next army chief.

    Hussain Haqqani in his book has written: ‘Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support of Islamic militants, its use of its intelligence apparatus for controlling domestic politics, and its refusal to cede power to a constitutional democratic government. As an aid donor, Washington has become one of Pakistan’s most important benefactors … the United States must use its aid as a lever to influence Pakistan’s domestic policies’.

    All these points are incorporated in the Kerry-Lugar bill.

  • mufti says:

    Dear Pakistani, you are an idiot. Where is the clause? you sound like stupid dawn reporter. show me that clause or withdraw your comment,

  • Malik Rashid says:

    The Bills:9/11 Commission Recommendation Act and Consolidated Appropriation Act stipulates that US aid to Pakistan from the fiscal year 2005-2008 would be subject to these preconditions

    (i) The Bill requires that the US President must certify that Islamabad has closed all known terrorist camps operating in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir;

    (ii) That Pakistan had established tangible serious and identifiable measures to prohibit and prevent the infiltration of Islamic extremists across the Line of Control (Loc) into India; and

    (iii) the third condition is that the US President should certify that Pakistan has stopped the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, including any associated technologies to any third country or terrorist organization.

    (iv)Government is implementing democratic reforms.

    These are all the same conditions in Kerry-Lugar bill. Why no one protested when Musharaf signed it?

  • sagheer says:

    this is not true. Musharaff never signed pakistan’s indepence away. he stood up and fought american imperialism. and that is why he was removed.

  • Qais says:

    Pakistan has been committing a mistake by accepting aid for whatever reasons. It has to stop one day, sooner the better. Four generations have passed the buck on. For God sake, stop justifying any and all Aid, Grant or whatever similar. It is a poison and no nation has ever progressed without working for it themselves. No household can survive on borrowed money. Has any one ever seen a beggar survive in a respectable society.

  • saleem sheikh says:

    Aid is itself not a bad thing if it is used for social sector development initiatives. Frankly speaking Pakistan cannot afford to continue investing in social sector with ever increasing heavy defense related expenditures and financial mismanagement. Foreign assistance is the only way to deliver something in social sector and keeping the status quo as far as defense expenditures are concerned. The problem in Kerry-Lugar bill is that it covers a wider range of policy goals of the US in the region that do not fit in the perspective, policies, and practices of the Pakistan Army that it has been used to live over 60 years. It was not the democratically elected government at any time of history (technically the government in1950s was not an elected government) in Pakistan which actually has played any part in becoming the US ally or in negotiating any major Aid package with the US. In 1980s and in 2000s it was military dictatorships that served the US polices in exchange of financial Aid. Tide is changing, now it is the first major financial Aid package that a democratically elected government is negotiating that itself an indication of a limited role of the Pakistan Army in policy maters. The current US administration has a different vision of policy on Pakistan then its predecessor. The current administration is more interested in designing policies on the principle of the carrot-and-the stick which in other words is more transparency and accountability. This objective is impossible to achieve if there is a military government in power, thus a democratically elected government is needed for monitoring purposes. There is no strings free financial Aid in the world specially when it coming form the US. The Kerry-Lugar bill has a clear political agenda that is to curb terrorism. In order to achieve that the US needs the Pakistan Army, but the Pakistan Army has rather a dubious reputation due to its alleged links with various Islamic militant groups. Therefore, there is a need to monitor closely all the activities of the Pakistan Army including its human resource department. Yes it is way too much for a sovereign country but if any one is responsible for this, it is Pakistan Army itself which never hesitate to rule the country, never be ashamed to conspire against successive elected governments, never think twice before brutally killing its own countrymen, never hesitate to work with the US and pocketing the Aid money, and never stop proclaiming itself the most sacred and untouchable institution of the state which cannot go though any process of accountability.

  • pakistan says:

    What is behind the ‘Ghairat’ debate?
    The News, October 14, 2009
    By Sadiq Saleem

    Every few years Pakistanis go through angry phases of self-righteous indignation
    over the country’s dependence on foreign aid. The ‘Ghairat’ (national honour)
    lobby, led by Islamist political parties, retired generals and the newly
    empowered right wing conspiracy theorists serving as television anchors have
    worked up the nation once again in the “honour is more important than aid”
    slogan mongering.

    Now that the controversy relating to the Kerry-Lugar Bill is de-escalating, it
    is time to understand the economic and security compulsions that have made us a
    dependent nation. Since 1947, when soon after independence the father of the
    nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself appealed for US aid, each one of
    Pakistan’s budgets has depended on external flows mainly because our own
    resources are limited and over-stretched.

    Notwithstanding the evolution of our indigenous defence capabilities, much of
    our military equipment still comes from the US or from China. Pakistan needs aid
    and no amount of hyper nationalist chest-thumping can change the fact that with
    huge unavoidable defence expenditure, growing unproductive population and a
    bloated government we have no option but to seek aid for development.

    The ‘Ghairat’ lobby, always eager to mobilize street protests of the “Go America
    Go” variety, never runs a campaign to get the nation to pay taxes. Ditto for the
    industrialists and traders that support the various factions of the Pakistan
    Muslim League and the landowners that are incharge of the Pakistan People’s
    Party. Few Pakistanis know we have a tax-to-GDP ratio of 8%, even below Ghana,
    which collects 15% of its GDP as revenue.

    It is fashionable to say we will break the proverbial begging bowl (kashkol) and
    tighten our belts. This is a good populist slogan much beloved of some Urdu
    columnists. As prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif championed this view and became
    rather popular among middle class urban Pakistanis. He started the National Debt
    Relief Program with the explicit purpose of raising donations from overseas and
    rich Pakistanis. Only $178.3 million were collected against the then outstanding
    national debt of $35 billion. Of this only $28 million was in donations, $1.6
    million in Qarz-e-Hasana, and $148 million was in profit bearing deposits. So
    much for ‘Ghairat’ and hyper nationalism trumping economic realities.

    The economies of nations grow through aid, trade, investment and productivity,
    That is how Japan and Germany overcame the destruction of World War II and South
    Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia all became Asian tigers. Pakistan’s problem
    has been that we are aid dependent but instead of completing the cycle and
    moving towards the large scale investment and productivity stage our ‘Ghairat’
    makes us abandon and restarts the cycle periodically.

    There are national security needs too that dictate our gravitation towards the
    US but that requires a separate detailed discussion. Suffice it to say that when
    hyper-nationalists and their Jihadism brought Pakistan to the brink of
    full-scale war during the unfortunate Kargil episode in 1999, Mian Nawaz Sharif
    travelled to the United States to seek a bailout. Then, those in the media
    claiming to speak for the military and intelligence agencies termed his action a
    “betrayal” only to bow to the US again after the October 1999 coup d’etat.

    Once again the PML is talking of foregoing US aid, to “slap the US in its face
    for insulting language in the Kerry-Lugar Bill” as one PML-N hothead put it on
    television. Of course, slapping the US on the face means not just losing US aid
    but also taking a hit in inflows from America’s allies, the IMF, the ADB and the
    World Bank. With national pride as its main asset, no wonder Sharif’s first
    government left only $1 billion in foreign exchange reserves in 1993.

    Just before he was ousted from power in General Musharraf’s military coup,
    foreign exchange reserves under Sharif’s second government had fallen to $700
    million. The pro-Americanism of Shaukat Aziz and Musharraf might not have
    brought much satisfaction to Jamaat-e-Islami and pro-Taliban columnists and
    anchors but by January 2008, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $16

    Similarly, President Asif Zardari’s whirlwind foreign tours for mobilizing aid
    might not please those who speak in the name of national pride and honour on
    almost daily basis. But they have brought back the foreign reserve position back
    to $14 billion by September 2009. With the Kerry-Lugar aid money we will be bale
    to invest more in our social sectors while keeping our current level national
    security spending intact.

    Now that ‘Ghairat’ is being invoked again to try and trip President Zardari over
    the Kerry-Lugar Bill, we need to review our history and thank God that for most
    of our history as an independent nation we have pursued realism and not allowed
    the ‘Ghairat’ chanting to dictate policy. Here is a look at the historic
    relationship between today’s ‘Ghairat’ lobby and conditional foreign aid:

    The Jamaat-e-Islami was too busy opposing the creation of Pakistan to notice
    that in November 1947 Quaid-e-Azam sent Mir Laik Ali (of Hyderabad Deccan) to
    Washington to ask for $2 billion in aid from the Americans. Pakistan, however,
    only received $10 million, only 0.5% of the original request.

    The fathers and grandfathers of most of the Pakistan Muslim League leaders (both
    N and Q) were in Pakistan Muslim League Convention when Field Marshal Ayub Khan
    secured large amounts of aid to build Pakistan’s Air Force (which saved our neck
    in 1965), create the agricultural revolution and build huge projects like the
    Mangla and Tarbela Dams.

    All of Ayub’s social and economic achievements were because of American aid,
    which always brings other aid. Aid from the World Bank and other institutions
    for many projects including the Indus waters system were amongst the many
    benefits at that time. Had ‘Ghairat’ trumped aid, we would be short of a lot
    more than what we face today.

    We are lucky that Brigadier Imtiaz Billa and Lt Gen Hamid Gul were still in
    service and Irfan Siddiqi and Haroonur Rashid had not yet become as influential
    as they are today during the rule of Ziaul Haq when we got massive amounts of
    aid enabling us to build huge airports, secure F-16s and covertly build the
    nuclear programme. Had their slogan mongering of today been national policy in
    the 1980s even the ISI would not have become the formidable intelligence service
    it has become because, after all, that all happened because of US assistance.

    If ‘Ghairat’ had been such an issue during General Zia’s period then our anchors
    would have been screaming each time Zia drove himself in his car to meet the
    American ambassador in complete violation of protocol, as reported in Lt Gen KM
    Arif’s book. But no one can dare question the patriotism of a coup-making
    four-star general. It is only civilians who are periodically suspect.

    Another recent addition to the ‘Ghairat’ lobby, former ISI chief Lt Gen Javed
    Ashraf Qazi was happy to be Minister of Railways in Musharraf’s era, gladly
    spending the money coming in as US aid. He did not bother to read the terms of
    American aid provided in 2001 and 2007 that included humiliating and insulting
    certification that Pakistan “had closed all known terrorist camps operating in
    Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir.”

    Azad Kashmir was referred to as Pakistan occupied Kashmir in an American aid
    bill, under direct military rule with all the current commanders holding senior
    positions, and no one had problems because aid was more important. In addition
    US aid legislation required that Pakistan takes “tangible serious and
    identifiable measures to prohibit and prevent the infiltration of Islamic
    extremists across the Line of Control (Loc) into India,” implying that the US
    Congress considered Azad Kashmir as Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Indian
    occupied Kashmir as India. Again our ‘Ghairat’ lobby had no problems with any of
    these conditions, partly because the professionals in the foreign office and the
    army knew that it was not binding nor did it create international law.

    The ‘Ghairat’ lobby is going ballistic with the Kerry-Lugar Bill, saying that
    the Americans want to dictate and control “our army” but the same lobby had no
    problems when in 2007 US aid was provided only when the American President
    certified that Pakistan had agreed to “undertake a comprehensive military,
    legal, economic, and political campaign to” “eliminate” groups like Taliban,
    al-Qaeda and others and Americans saw proof of the same.

    The language of the bill at the time stated that it was necessary that Pakistan
    “is currently making demonstrated, significant, and sustained progress toward
    eliminating safe haven or support for terrorists.”

    The ‘Ghairat’ lobby sees the Kerry-Lugar Bill as imposing restrictions on
    Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme when all it talks about is any future
    proliferation, protecting Dr AQ Khan’s shenanigans. However, in 2007 the
    Americans had said that all licenses under the Arms Export Control Act would be
    suspended unless Pakistan “satisfied US requests for assistance and information,
    including whether the US has asked and been granted direct investigatory access
    to key persons involved in nuclear proliferation network.”

    How did our great ‘Ghairat’ lobby eat this humble pie in 2007? Or was it that
    some realists rightly thought aid was more important than ‘Ghairat’ and are now
    using the ‘Ghairat’ card simply to destabilize the elected civilian government?

    The problem with the Kerry-Lugar Bill is not that it is insulting or an affront
    to national honour. The problem is that it has come under civilian rule and
    primarily for civilian purposes. Our military has made the correct decision to
    get out of politics and stay out of politics but some civilian superhawks want
    to drag it back in by raising the spectre of threats to national security in the
    garb of the Kerry-Lugar Bill. The loudest noise against the Kerry-Lugar Bill is
    coming from those who have wanted Asif Zardari out of the presidency from the
    day he was elected.

    The game is to drive a wedge between the military and civilian leaderships, sow
    doubts about the patriotism of our elected leaders and their chosen officials
    and return the country to the point where only a handful of people with right
    wing political affiliations determine who is a patriot and who is not. And there
    is no chance whatsoever that even after this government is toppled or some heads
    rolled in the name of national honour Pakistan will stop seeking aid or that aid
    will be readily available without some insulting terms. The nation needs to know
    that it cannot eat ‘ghairat’ but which TV anchor is willing to have an honest
    debate on that subject?

    Sadiq Saleem is a businessman and part-time analyst based in Toronto, Canada.

  • Shahzad says:

    @pakistan: Nice article Mr Pakistan, it just shows what an incorrigible beggars we pakis are….
    I accept we do need aid but to go to such low heights and accepting aid with conditions that strip our own identity as a sovereign independent nation is totally bogus idea…..
    What i cant understand is that why do these past leaders were always looking to Christian Nations for aid and not ask from fellow muslim rich states like Iran, Saudi Arabia etc…..

  • Saifuddin says:

    Where is our Ghairat when we receive military aid?

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