American Non Military aid to Pakistan tripled to $7.5
Helping America on war on terror is paying dividends to Pakistan. The American senate has approved three fold hike in non military aid to Pakistan.
Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr on Tuesday introduced a landmark legislation in the US Congress proposing non-military aid to Pakistan be tripled to 7.5 billion dollars over five years, and linking security aid to performance.
The bipartisan legislation authorises 1.5 billion dollars annually for development purposes, such as building schools, roads and clinics, for five years and advocates a similar amount over a subsequent five-year period, beginning 2009.
The non-military aid is a major shift in the US-Pakistan relations with the bill authorising a figure more than triple the current levels of non-military funding. The legislation “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2008”, if passed, also advocates an additional $7.5 billion over the subsequent five years. Senator Biden said this is to demonstrate that the US is not a fair-weather ally but an all-weather friend of Pakistan.
“The ten-year timeframe (five years authorised, five years advocated) is intended to address persistent Pakistani fears that the US is interested in a short-term tactical and highly transactional relationships.”
The proposed bill, at the same time, has conditioned the future military aid on certification by the secretary of state that Pakistani security forces are “not materially interfering in the political or judicial process of Pakistan”; making concerted efforts to prevent terrorists from operating inside the country; and making concerted efforts to prevent the Taliban from using the country’s territory.
The military aid conditions incorporate longstanding US demands for increased Pakistani cooperation against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and for the military to refrain from interfering in the democratic process, a handout issued by Senator Biden’s media office, said.
“They (the conditions) provide powerful leverage for the administration to obtain better results for the billions we spend.” The bill takes no position on whether military aid will increase, decrease, or remain at current levels: that can be determined on a yearly basis depending on the need and cooperation, the handout said.
Senator Biden, who drafted this package together with Senator Richard Lugar, said at a joint press conference later that it was a bipartisan effort and “there’s a great amount of support from the house” also hoping that President George Bush would approve this bill before or in September.
The bill urges reorientation of engagement towards the Pakistani people rather than merely towards the Pakistani government (civil or military). From the Pakistani perspective, Senator Biden said, America is an unreliable ally, and whose support to date has merely bolstered unrepresentative rulers, both in and out of uniform.
“We need to change this arrangement into the type of normal, functional relationship we enjoy with all of our military allies and friendly nations.” The US-Pakistan relations have been largely transactional: the exchange of aid for services, he said. That transaction is not working.
A dependent and broadened engagement would address issues of concern to the Pakistanis, rather than merely focusing on issues of concern to the US, Biden said. “Such topics include trade policy (textile quota etc), visa policy, US agricultural subsidies, US policy in the Middle East, Guantanamo, or Kashmir,” the handout said.
We will not always agree with Pakistani interlocutors on such topics but by insisting on a dialogue that is weighted almost entirely toward counterterrorism issues, we fail to provide the sort of respectful, open-end engagement on which true cooperation is based.
Republican Senator Richard Lugar said the legislation recognises that strengthening democracy and countering terrorism go hand in hand. “American Defence, Intelligence and State department officials have all said that economic development and improved governance are at least as critical as military action in containing the terrorist threat.”
The draft bill has also urged accountability and transparent reporting of the Coalition Support Funds and directs the secretary of state to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Afghan-Pakistan border.