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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Kerry-Lugar Pakistan Authorization Bill

By Dr. Richard Swier 09/29/09 02:50 PM EDT 0 Comments

Column courtesy of Gary H. Johnson, Jr.:
As the media clammered over Bob Woodward's release of a leaked 66-page Afghanistan Assessment by General McChrystal in the Washington Post and the pundits opined over the ensuing mystery surrounding the classified troop and resource allocation request of the top General in Afghanistan, the U.S. Senate was hard at work allocating funds for Pakistani security. Virtually lost amid the myriad eccentricities and pomp and lackluster posturing of the UN assembly speakers, the passage of the Kerry-Lugar bill did not even cause a ripple in the main stream media. Hailed as a bi-partisan triumph by the Senate on September 24th, the Kerry-Lugar aid authorization bill for Pakistan put forward $7.5 billion in aid over 5 years to the government and people of Pakistan.
On the way to a Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) sitdown with the Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi, U.S. Special Envoy to the AfPak Richard Holbrooke, took a ten minute lightning round of questions for the State Department's press corp at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. In response to a query on the Kerry-Lugar bill, Holbrooke stated that "The bill is a five-year authorization, very unusual in the modern world, and represents the Senate making a multiyear commitment to the security of Pakistan, 1.5 billion a year.... and there’s a lot of work left to be done."
While noting that the bill "was originally called Biden-Lugar-Obama", Holbrooke made sure to single out for praise the Republican Senators Kyl and Graham for their diligent efforts in hammering out the wording of the authorization as it was sent down to the House of Representatives for review and finalization. While giving a nod to the Democratic leadership involved, Holbrooke stated that his deputy was speaking with Chairman Berman on the issue.
US Congressman Howard Berman as the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs welcomed the Senate’s approval of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan 2009 legislation (S.1707) to increase assistance for Pakistan, and tabled the same legislation in the House of Representatives later in the day. The measure effectively triples US democratic, economic, and social development assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year, with particular focus on democratic institutions, economic development and education. As a compromise bill between legislation first introduced in the House and then the Senate, both the state and defense departments support the measure as a strategic necessity in effectively establishing a partnership with the people, institutions, and leaders of Pakistan.
The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act is the culmination of the first stage of the Obama Administration's AfPak strategy announced on March 27th, 2009. In discussing the way forward in Pakistan, Obama stated, "It's important for the American people to understand that Pakistan needs our help in going after al Qaeda. This is no simple task. The tribal regions are vast, they are rugged, and they are often ungoverned. And that's why we must focus our military assistance on the tools, training and support that Pakistan needs to root out the terrorists. And after years of mixed results, we will not, and cannot, provide a blank check." In order to ground the support of the United States in the democratic institutions of Pakistan, Obama's address called upon Congress "to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by John Kerry and Richard Lugar that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years -- resources that will build schools and roads and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan's democracy."
President Obama's AfPak Strategy to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda demanded a visible commitment by Pakistan "to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders."
On June 16th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously 16-0 in favor of the Kerry-Lugar bill as Pakistan's military mounted a seven-week campaign against Islamic insurgents in its northwest, and opened a full-fledged second front along its mountainous tribal belt.
The language of the Kerry-Lugar Act as passed by the Senate on September 24th places the U.S. Secretary of State into a key role in the justification of the funds that are appropriated and the uses of the funds that are transferred to the Nation of Pakistan.
Within 45 days of the enactment of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan 2009 Act, Hillary Clinton will be required to put forward to appropriate Congressional Committees a "Pakistan Assistance Strategy Report" which entails "the principal objectives of United States assistance to Pakistan", an accounting of "specific programs, projects, and activities" and "the respective funding levels for such programs, projects, and activities for fiscal years 2010 through 2014."
In addition, Secretary Clinton must establish within this strategy report a "plan for program monitoring, operations research, and impact evaluation research for assistance authorized" as well as the partnership roles "to be played by Pakistani national, regional, and local officials and members of Pakistani civil society and local private sector, civic, religious, and tribal leaders" in craftng the strategy.
While providing proof that funds will not be awarded to terror affiliated individuals or groups, the Clinton State Department must also break down and present an analysis which determines Pakistan's Eligibility for Millennium Challenge Account Assistance in over 15 categories; and must also develop an analysis on suitable replacements for aging Pakistani helicopters which includes recommendations for sustainment and training.
Moreover, this exhaustive effort will be followed by a comprehensive 6-month analysis from President Obama's Administration, which tables a "comprehensive interagency regional security strategy to eliminate terrorist threats and close safe havens in Pakistan, including by working with the Government of Pakistan and other relevant governments and organizations in the region and elsewhere, as appropriate, to best implement effective counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts in and near the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the FATA, the NWFP, parts of Balochistan, and parts of Punjab."
On September 27th, already preparing to move forward on her responsibilities in advancing her State Department role in funding the Kerry-Lugar Act, Secretary Clinton, in an interview with CBS, remarked matter-of-factly on the last nine months in which Islamabad demonstrated an increased commitment in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban -- lauding the Pakistani Military operation in Swat as "absolutely successful".
In acknowledging the Pakistani military effort, Clinton also highlighted the intensive engagement between civilian and military leaders of Pakistan in Washington and Islamabad, noting that the close coordination and sharing of information allowed a decision to be made in Pakistan that the al-Qaeda and Taliban threat was directed at and sought to undermine the Pakistani government.
However, reports from South Asia indicate that the Pakistani Parliament has not been kept fully updated as to the conditions or terms of the Kerry-Lugar Act by its President, Foreign Minister, Intelligence liasons or military leadership. Tempers are flaring over the internal and international implications of Pakistan's government accepting the terms of the American Aid. Also at issue, following Pakistan's bloody spring and summer fight for survival against the dogged terrorists, is the amount of funds appropriated by America in the Kerry-Lugar bill.
In a statement issued on September 27th, legislator Marvi Memon of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) expressed concern over how the PPP led government could accept the insulting language of the Kerry-Lugar bill. Memon takes issue with the text of the bill, claiming it weakens Pakistan's International image by suggesting that Pakistan's military and intelligence apparati were involved in supporting terrorists and extremists, while not guaranteeing that the destabilizing terror emanating from Afghanistan and India would be controlled. According to a report by Tahir Niaz in The Daily Times, Memon "asked the government to explain whether the aid provided through the Kerry-Lugar legislation was only for civilian projects or whether it also included police reforms, equipment and training."
Disturbingly, on September 28th, in a Daily Times report out of Lahore, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik apparently attempted to gloss over the issue by saying that "Pakistan will get no strings-attached aid under the Kerry-Lugar bill." Concerning reports that the bill demanded the dismantling of terrorist bases in Quetta and Muridke, Malik said that no operation was underway in the two cities. He said the United States wanted to improve the performance of Pakistan's civil administration.
Reporting out of Washington D.C. for GEO Pakistan, Sami Ibrahim sought to clarify the controversy in a brief exchange with Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's Envoy to the United States. Haqqani remarked that the legal conditions in the Kerry-Lugar bill apply to the U.S. government and that any unacceptable Aid conditions on Pakistan were abolished through lobbying efforts.
In a Monday press conference, Ahsan Iqbal, spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) termed the Kerry-Lugar aid package "peanuts" and demanded that the PPP led government present the bill to the National Assembly, claiming that accepting the Kerry-Lugar bill without parliamentary approval would be a compromise of Pakistan's sovereignty. Iqbal asked pointedly, “If the US government took its people into confidence before giving this aid to Pakistan then why does the Pakistani government hesitate to take its parliament into confidence?”
Dawn reported that Iqbal took issue with Haqqani's explanation of the lobbying efforts of the Pakistan government, rejecting the government’s claim that Pakistan was receiving US assistance on its own terms. “The nation has a right to know if the strings attached to the Kerry-Lugar bill had been proposed by the government itself,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal criticized the government’s lack of transparency, poor governance, and cronyism, charging that a fundamental "lack of trust in the Pakistani government expressed by the world community at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting was embarrassing for the country." According to Iqbal the FoDP meeting was an embarrassment for the nation because the World Bank had been made the caretaker of economic activities in the country.
In the FoDP Tokyo donor conference in April, pledges for Pakistan's budgetary supplement for the alleviation of poverty over the next two years amounted to a disappointing 3.5 billion dollars in grants and loans over the regular assistance, a figure amounting to half a billion less than low expectations.
According to a Dawn April 13th report, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin stated that the war on terror had drained resources designed for education and poverty alleviation, "Pakistan had to divert $35 billion to its security needs over the past seven to eight years." Due to these tough choices made in support of America's War on Terror, "Pakistan will forward its case for getting $6 billion immediately for a period of two years from the FoDP group." And, Pakistan is seeking a total of $30 billion development finance package from the FoDP, and is ready to meet all transparency and accountability-related conditions of the FoDP.
On the September 24th FoDP summit gathering, The International News reported that Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reiterated Mr. Tarin's April assurance, saying "the aid to be extended to Pakistan through Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) will be used with transparency and we will fully cooperate with US in this connection." According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, Qureshi called the summit a "diplomatic success".
Save for the Kerry-Lugar bill's passage, the second organizational meeting of the FoDP, which took place in New York on September 24th did not see a dramatic breakthrough on the financial plight of Pakistan, since it was not a "pledging session".
Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, present at the FoPD briefing, said that the passage of the Kerry-Lugar bill by U.S. Senate was the first time the U.S. has made a multiyear commitment to a country. Its significance should not be lost sight of. The money is on top of the aid Pakistan is already receiving under the current legislation. When questions of monitoring corruption in the process of transparency in aid flows, Holbrooke said that the U.S. government has assigned Ambassador Robin Raphel, who under the instructions of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will coordinate with the relevant government ministries as the aid process moves forward.
The grievances of Marvi Memon and Ahsan Iqbal of the Palestinian Muslim Leagues within the Pakistan National assembly deserve attention, since they provide a window into a relatively unknown political sphere, the Pakistani Parliament. Both hold validity in their concerns; however, one deserves a full reckoning.
The concerns of Marvi Memon of PML-Q over the language of the Kerry-Lugar bill's insulting passages are matters where engagement have power. The fact is, Senators Graham and Kyl were pushing to get the language of the bill right as a favor to Zardari, who asked Holbrooke to fasttrack the bill in a meeting on September 23rd in order to provide a broader platform of success for the FoDP summit on the 24th. If one or two lines are all that stand in the way of complete agreement between two separate nations with multiple language barriers, engagement can walk the Pakistani Government through the woods.
With PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal's question of parliament's stakeholder rights in reviewing the Kerry Lugar bill before approving or rejecting the aid package, Pakistan's national sovereignty is at stake in the transparency of President Zardari and his administration's activities on the economic front. In terms of local perceptions, a weightier topic hits the mix when rumors abound about the possibility that Musharraf is a huge recipient of no bid contracts in the energy sector. It is without a doubt that the United States citizenry would find outrage at the World Bank ministering the U.S. Treasury Department, just as Iqbal finds the same to be troubling in Pakistan. However, to term the aid package of a nation, which by far and away dwarfs the packages of all other countries in the world "peanuts" is a matter of grave concern for the Zardari government for reasons of public relations with America and for reasons of historic perceptions.
In 1980, in the wake of the Shah's fall in Iran and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Russians, Pakistan found itself at the center of the American foreign policy initiative, since it was the only stable nation in the South Asia sphere. Tariq Ali's 2008 release Pakistan: In the Flight Path of American Power reveals that in establishing a bulwark against Russian aggression in the region "Pakistan had ... turned down a $400 million aid package offered by the White House's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, on the grounds that 'it was peanuts' and informed Washington that it was looking forward to subsidies that, at the least, were on a scale similar to what was being provided to Egypt and Turkey. Why should Pakistan accept anything less? It was now a frontline state, and in pleasant anticipation of what this new status entailed, a number of senior members of the elite had opened bank accounts in far-flung tax havens."
When Zardari returns home, will he find a parliament opposition that is set on legal and constitutional supremacy for the soul purpose of howling at the moon?
Iqbal stated in his press conference that "if the government did not present the conditions of the Kerry-Lugar Bill in parliament the PML-N would, in collaboration with other parties, chalk out a plan to restore the supremacy of parliament."
Is the Pakistan stage set for a bloodless coup? Or are the elites of Pakistan merely restive about the fact that their governing administration has not procured enough money for ill-gotten fortunes to be slushed apace with the nation's obvious frontline status in the regional U.S. AfPak Strategy? Will Hillary Clinton's late November strategy report reveal a picture in which ex-President Musharraf reaps massive energy dividends, confirming Iqbal's rumor mill?___________________________________________
End Notes\09\28\story_28-9-2009_pg7_18\09\28\story_28-9-2009_pg7_18$4bn-from-donors-for-education,-health
Obama, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda

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