U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement of a $2 billion military aid package would have pleased her Pakistani colleagues. Clinton’s announcement was made on the final day of the current round of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue (October 20-22) held here. The Pakistani delegation, led by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, included Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
“Productive discussions” on long-term funding have continued, Clinton said, and “in keeping with our enduring commitment to help Pakistan plan for its defense needs, I am pleased to announce our Multi-Year Security Assistance Commitment to Pakistan. We will request $2 billion in foreign military assistance from Congress for 2012 through 2016. This will complement the $7.5 billion in civilian projects that has already been approved in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation”.
According to foreign media reports, privately, the US warned Pakistan that it risks losing this and other American aid if it does not adopt a more aggressive stance toward militants. In plain words U.S. Warns Pakistan: Fight Taliban or Lose Funding.
According to The Christian Science Monitor; But the offer of new military aid came with a privately issued warning – the stick in the equation – that Pakistan risks losing this and other aid the US offers if the government does not adopt a more aggressive stance toward militants.
Despite whatever tough words the US had for the Pakistanis in private, prospects for a radically different approach from Pakistan toward the extremists groups are not good, some regional experts say.
“I don’t perceive Pakistan changing its objectives, and that’s really the core issue here,” says Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst focusing on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Cato Institute in Washington. “Since 9/11 we have pushed, prodded, and threatened … and it’s clear to me that Pakistan is not going to alter its internal politics or shift its security policies no matter how much aid the US gives.”
Pakistan has undertaken offensives into some militant strongholds, but it has not launched into others like North Waziristan and has left unscathed other groups the US is focused on, Ms. Innocent says. Those groups include the Haqqani network, which some US officials now consider the most powerful Taliban-affiliated organization in Pakistan; the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban leadership located in Pakistan since being ousted from Afghanistan; and Al Qaeda.
The US Congress has become increasingly impatient with Pakistan’s reluctance to go after groups like Al Qaeda, leading some analysts to anticipate resistance to another aid package to Pakistan. Congress last year approved a five-year, $7.5 billion package of civilian aid[The kerry-Luger Berman Bill] aimed at boosting development and strengthening Pakistan’s fragile democratic institutions.
The Foreign Policy’s blog ‘The Cable’ reported that the tough message was delivered personally by US President Barack Obama to the visiting Pakistani delegation during the meeting with National Security Advisor in-waiting Tom Donilon. Mostly Americans appear to believe that Pakistanis are not pulling their weight in the fight against terrorism which affects Pakistan and its neighbours. Recent media reports in the U.S. speculated that Osama bin Laden is living a life of luxury in Pakistan.
President Barack Obama dropped in on that meeting and stayed for 50 minutes, according to an official who was there, and personally delivered the tough message that other top US officials have been communicating since the Pakistani delegation arrived, The Cable reported this while confirming reports from various sources that the Obama Administration is taking a markedly tougher tone than before.
The Obama Administration, though having publicly apologised to Islamabad for the death of three Pakistani soldiers in a Nato helicopter attack, has taken a strong note of the Pakistani establishment’s decision to block crucial NATO supply route to Afghanistan through the country.
This has been considered as a “purely blackmailing” tactics by the US, one official said, while Islamabad has been saying this as a sovereignty issue.
Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped in unannounced during an another meeting between Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke and Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Kayani.
“She delivered the message that Washington’s patience is wearing thin with Pakistan’s ongoing reluctance to take a more aggressive stance against militant groups operating from Pakistan over the Afghan border,” The Cable reported.
A similar message was delivered to General Kayani in another high-level side meeting on Wednesday at the Pentagon, hosted by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, two senior government sources were quoted as saying by The Cable.
I is also important to note that Pakistan’s ‘Rogue Units’ Excluded from U.S. Military Aid, the “Leahy Amendment,”
a well established legislative provision named for Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont who put it on the statute books, prohibits foreign military units that have committed egregious violations of human rights from receiving U.S. assistance. The law has previously been applied to a handful of countries including Colombia and Indonesia.