Original Articles

Blast from the past: Unnecessary Criticism of the Kerry Lugar Bill – 8th October 2009

It’s been more than a year that all the hoo-haa started on the Kerry-Lugar Bill. I had written a post then about the Unnecessary Criticism of the aid package. It becomes all the more ironic now that the same military is going to get USD 2 billion. However, no heads need to be rolled this time.

We have all heard of the proverb “apnay pairon pay kulhari maarna” throughout our life. As a nation, don’t we aptly fall under the subject of this proverb? I am talking about the recent mindless criticism and objection to the approval of ‘‘Enhanced Partnership  with Pakistan Act of 2009’’ passed by the US Congress in the last week of September 2009 and more famously known as the “Kerry-Lugar Bill” by all and sundry in Pakistan. The bill envisages support to Pakistan to the tune of USD 1.5 billion per year between 2010 and 2014.

 The whole opposition, media and the pseudo-intellectuals of Pakistan have been crying foul over the passage of this aid bill whose basic objective is “To authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to promote an enhanced strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, and for other purposes.” Yesterday’s (October 7)  Corps Commander meeting’s apprehensions was just the icing on the cake.

 Before I go on with my humble analysis of the Bill, let me pose a few questions to all the readers:

  1. Do we not blame the US for most of our woes especially after Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan Jihad of the 1980’s that has resulted in radicalization of our society through the creation of extremist organizations?
  2. Have we not played a valuable role in fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda since 2001 who had grown in strength ever since the 9/11 attacks?
  3. Has the struggle against Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist groups not led to the deaths of several thousand Pakistani civilians and members of the security forces over the past seven years?
  4. Has the nation not given sacrifices by facing the wrath of terrorism especially since January 2007?
  5. Have we not seen endless suicide bomb attacks in the country and absolute subversion of the writ of the state in a number of areas of the country?
  6. Have we not seen 2.3 million Pakistanis leave their homes in Swat and Malakand districts, being made refugees in their own country and now being repatriated gradually during the last 6 months alone?
  7. Has the nation not endured the cost of approximately USD 10 billion since the start of Operation Rah-e-Haq in May 2009?
  8. During 2008 and 2009, the people of Pakistan have been especially hard hit by rising food and commodity prices and severe energy shortages. Is this statement incorrect?
  9. Have we not been making efforts to contain possible nuclear proliferation and stopping networks that assist in such activities?
  10. Have we not been striving to strengthen Pakistan’s efforts to develop a  strong and effective law enforcement and national defense forces under civilian leadership?
  11. Don’t we want the people of under-developed areas have access to public, modernized education and vocational training to enable them to provide for themselves, for their families, and for a more prosperous future for their children?
  12. Aren’t we striving to promote sustainable long-term development and infrastructure projects in all areas of Pakistan, that are sustained and supported by each successive democratic government in the country?
  13. Finally, don’t we want democracy to flourish in Pakistan that would enable us to reestablish an independent and transparent judicial system, and working to extend the rule of law in all areas in Pakistan and more importantly stop military adventures in conquering their own country every ten years forever?

 If I am correct then none of you would say no to any of the above questions? Exactly this is what the Kerry Lugar Bill talks about! The Bill which was presented in the US Congress can be viewed and read by all by clicking on the following link: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3642ih.txt.pdf

 Now let us look at some recent statements coming from the leading critics of the aid to Pakistan:

  • “This is not Kerry-Lugar Bill, it is Kerry Looter Bill” – Chaudhry Shujat Hussain
  • “This document in its current form is an insult and humiliation to the country” – Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. The actual statement in urdu was “Kerry Lugar bill kay har safhay par Pakistan kee toheen hay
  • “The conditions mentioned in the Kerry-Lugar bill are in fact against the national independence and sovereignty,” Jamat-e-Islami Spokesman
  • Corps Commander conference has expressed ‘serious concerns’ on some of the clauses of the bill that they believe would affect ‘national security’

 

Question is how many people have read the bill in entirety? I guess not many, for having read the bill, I don’t find many reasons the bill to be considered against Pakistan’s National Security. Personally I feel that some of the fastidious people criticizing the bill are unhappy with some of the following provisions:

 

  • Provision of additional USD 150 million in 2010 for the professionalization, equipping, and training of Pakistan police (Page 19). I guess on one hand we want our police to become better, however, when someone offers to help, it’s against national interest!
  • For fiscal years 2010 through 2014, any direct cash security-related assistance or non-assistance payments by the United States to the Government of Pakistan may only be provided or made to civilian authorities of a civilian government of Pakistan (page 38). Also on page 40 the term ‘‘civilian government of Pakistan’’ is defined as one which does not include any government of Pakistan whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree. So why are we fearful? Don’t we want a Civilian Government or are we waiting for another military coup?
  • Along with FATA and parts of NWFP, Quetta and Muridke are mentioned as places where there are possible sanctuaries of extremist groups (page 6 and 32). Aren’t the Jaish Mohammad and Lashkar Taiba banned outfits? Isn’t the government already taking action against these organizations? Are we not looking towards closing possible terrorist camps? Till when are we going to remain in self denial?
  • Regarding the nuclear program, which according to critics will be under jeopardy if this bill is accepted, the bill on page 49 says amongst other points that have to be evaluated in a report by the US Secretary of State “an assessment of whether assistance provided to Pakistan has directly or indirectly aided the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, whether by the diversion of United States assistance or the reallocation of Pakistan’s financial resources that would otherwise be spent for programs and activities unrelated to its nuclear weapons program”. This clause doesn’t say that Pakistan has to shut down its nuclear weapons program? If it does then maybe I can’t read things in black and white. It is also important to note that the language of the clause is markedly toned down from what was approved by the US Senate earlier.
  • It may also be noted that the language of the Bill is far less prescriptive and stringent than the original version. Specific references to India as well as AQ Khan have been eliminated which were there before. So how has the Indian Lobby won in defaming Pakistan?

 

The above points are the apparent cause of disdain to the critics. Critics are also claiming that certifications by the US Secretary of State and US President’s Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan should not have been there. It is also to be noted that there is a waiver for almost every condition. Besides, the Bill requires a waiver from  the Secretary of State and not from the President of US.  I think no country in the world is in a position to offer a cash cheque to anyone, anymore. How can we continue to live in a fool’s paradise?

I unfortunately see this criticism as a lack of attention to detail by our nation in general and the so called intellectuals in particular. Many a politicians may not have read the document and have started crying foul. If they start to cry foul, then why shouldn’t the military say the same?

 

The whole point is that for the first time US has listened to the needs of Pakistan to support a democratic dispensation. For the first time assistance will be focused on civilians and not to be channeled through the military. The military doesn’t have to fear anything. A strong and democratic Pakistan is the requirement of the whole world. The military will also benefit from the same. According to the editorial in today’s (October 8, 2009) Daily Dawn, “The national security–democracy debate is not an either/or issue — national security can and must be protected through the democratic process. Even by Pakistani standards, it is too soon to forget the damage caused by extra-constitutional interventions”.

Now look at the positives that has happened recently:

  1. The KSE-100 index appreciated the announcement of passing of the Kerry Lugar Bill and the index went up  by nearly 200 points or 2.5% after the market resumed trading post eid holidays
  2. Pakistan’s sovereign bond prices have gone up which means that the status of the bonds and that of Pakistan is being looked at as less risky. According to one commentator, Pakistan’s bond prices have gone up by 99% since October 2008. Because of improvements like these, the government is considering issuing a new bond soon. Could they have done the same at previous risk perception of Pakistan?
  3. The business community has appreciated the passing of the bill as it will assist in aiding economic recovery and have demanded more assistance to help improve trade.

 

I would also like to question the Government in Waiting that is of PML N, that assuming the PPP government accepts the aid till the time they are in power, can the PML N commit to the nation that once they are in power, they will not look for this aid from the US?  Yes, the aid that is being offered is less than what we deserve. When last year the Pakistan President said that “Pakistan needs to be compensated with USD 100 billion” he was subjected to all sorts of jokes. This is a start and more money will pour in, which is what our nation deserves. We need money to rebuild ourselves and stand on our feet. I feel that at this point in time the only people who can defeat us are Pakistanis themselves.