Kerry-Lugar Bill and our "Ghairat"

Here are a few op-eds on Kerry Lugar Bill:

Abdul Qadir Hassan: A column against Hussain Haqqani
Nazir Naji

Kerry-Lugar and our response
Dissenting Note

Friday, October 16, 2009
Dr Masooda Bano

AThe stiff response of the Pakistani military leadership to the Kerry Lugar Bill has led to the Pakistani government and its US counterparts agreeing to mellow down some of the clauses. The joint explanatory statement issued by the US Congress shows a softening of the clause that stirred the heaviest resistance from the Pakistani military: i.e., asking for greater civilian control over the promotion of military officials and strategic planning within the military. This softening of the position can hardly be argued to be a means of establishing Pakistan’s sovereignty. The fact of life is that the US has been playing a highly interventionist role in Pakistan especially since the Sept 11 attacks and will continue to do so. Ironically, when there is resistance to the US, it is not to protect the interests of the ordinary Pakistanis but of the Pakistani military. It shows the military is in no mood to become more accountable to civilian authorities.

Aimed to strengthen Pakistan’s capability to resist militancy, the Bill, unlike in the case of the last eight years of US engagement with Pakistan, prioritises investment in long-term development of Pakistan. Rather than channelling aid towards the Pakistani military to meet immediate security targets, which are related to US interests, the Bill in principle priorities investment in socio-economic development of Pakistan to ensure long-term development. It argues for supporting the economic activity, and investment in education. It also emphasises reaching out and adequately compensating the people who have been displaced due to the military operations conducted by the Pakistani army to check the militants. It asks for closer scrutiny of the utilisation of the aid money. And since the Bill also states strengthening of democracy as an important objective of this new aid package, among other things it puts some requirements for better accountability of the military to the civilian leadership.

Coming from a country whose leadership has since 2001 only been concerned with using Pakistan to flight its war against the Al-Qaeda, the clauses in the Bill were actually a positive shift. It is easy for people to start talking about sovereignty of Pakistan but why does the sovereignty only matter when the external party is arguing for the military to be made more accountable to civilian– i.e., elected leadership of the country? As the Bill also notes in the background section, Pakistan has since 2001 received two times more military aid than civilian aid. Out of $15,000,000,000 US assistance to Pakistan since 2001, more than $10,000,000,000 has been paid as security-related assistance and direct payments.

This huge flow of security related assistance has primarily been channelled through the military. The Pakistani public has no means to make either the US or the Pakistani military accountable for how that money was used. Gen Musharraf himself acknowledged in his controversial autobiography that the Pakistani military and the related agencies have been handsomely rewarded by the US government for handing over Pakistani suspects to the US. The military-led government of Gen Musharraf was actually receiving US dollars for handing over Pakistanis without giving them a trial in country. The scale of such cases was large enough to result in the missing people’s campaign by the families of the victims. Yet, the Pakistani military top command did not seem to face any moral dilemma about the sovereignty of the country being affected by receipt of huge flow of unchecked military aid.

The question is that what is more objectionable: a foreign state directly channelling huge amount of funds to Pakistani military without involving civilian leadership or the foreign state trying to ensure that the Pakistani military actually becomes more responsive to the civilian command structure. The US engagement with Pakistan under the Bush administration has been led by the former approach. This was also the easiest route for the US: keep giving aid to Pakistani military to carry out the counter-militancy operations don’t be that concerned about the long term development of the country.

The Kerry Lugar Bill on the other hand makes a conscious shift towards engaging with the civilian command structure and more importantly investing in the long-term development of Pakistan. True, Pakistan would be better off with less of US intervention. However, when the intervention has to be there, it is better that it is designed to help civilian rule rather than supporting military intervention in state governance. Kerry Lugar Bill tried to shift the balance but it is clear that the Pakistani military is not ready to adjust the power balance against the civilian leadership.

The writer is a research fellow at the Oxford University. Email: mb294@hotmail .com (The News)


Asadullah Ghalib

Capital suggestion
Aid from America

Sunday, October 18, 2009
Dr Farrukh Saleem

The official title of the Kerry-Lugar Bill is the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 and has 8,151 words and 53,562 characters. Terror-related terms appear 38 times, ‘nuclear’ five times, Quetta and Muridke each appear twice and India appears only once. The primary focus of the entire act is non-military aid amounting to $1.5 billion per year for the following five years (while all the debate within Pakistan relates to military aid). However, non-military aid is unconditional.

Section 203 — titled ‘limitations on certain assistance’ — of the act applies only to security assistance for Pakistan. Under Section 302, the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of defence, has to submit a monitoring report evaluating the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat… extremists and terrorist groups”, which has been the officially stated policy of the government long before this act was passed. The monitoring report must “evaluate” the government’s efforts towards shutting down Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed – both these religious outfits were banned by the Pakistani government back in 2002.

The report must also evaluate government’s efforts towards preventing attacks in the neighbouring countries — the officially stated policy is to prevent the use of Pakistani soil for attacks into neighbouring countries. In this regard, the Charter of Democracy, signed by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, states that “terrorism and militancy are by-products of military dictatorship, negation of democracy, are strongly condemned, and will be vigorously confronted.”

Furthermore, the monitoring report must also evaluate “Pakistan’s efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear-related material” but the officially stated policy of the government is to prevent proliferation of nuclear-related material as well. It must include 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.”

Under Article 243 of the Constitution of Pakistan, “the federal government shall have control and command of the armed forces.” In this regard, the Charter of Democracy, signed by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, states that “the ISI, MI and other security agencies shall be accountable to the elected government through Prime Minister Secretariat, Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Division respectively. Their budgets will be approved by DCC after recommendations are prepared by the respective ministry. The political wings of all intelligence agencies will be disbanded. A committee will be formed to cut waste and bloat in the armed forces and security agencies in the interest of the defense and security of the country. All senior postings in these agencies shall be made with the approval of the government through respective ministry (clause 32).” This is an aid package and not a bilateral agreement. The Government of Pakistan is under no obligation whatsoever — the only entity empowered to make laws for Pakistan is our National Assembly.

The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: (The News)

Kerry-Lugar is good for Pakistan
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Aakar Patel

Popular opinion is not, and shouldn’t be, the place where foreign policy is decided.

It isn’t usually, because most people don’t care what their nation’s relationship is with another nation. This has exceptions. We are interested in the way our nation behaves with a neighbour we have gone to war with, or a country that we have deep economic ties with. But we are unconcerned about what treaties our government signs with Congo or Vietnam or Austria.

And popular opinion shouldn’t be where foreign policy is decided, because weighing in on foreign policy needs more information and background – what is called domain expertise — than is available to most of us. If it is available, most of us find it uninteresting.

It is for the same reason that budget deficits are not decided directly by popular opinion, but indirectly through elected leaders.

We could decide to influence our policy with a nation through popular opinion, but then a significant majority of us must know the history of the two nations’ relationship. They must understand the text of current documents, and the consequences of action.

This is difficult, though there are times when all of it is swept aside because it becomes irrelevant, for instance if that nation declares war on us.

Another reason for foreign policy being best kept out of popular opinion is that we are emotional when thinking of ourselves as a nation.

We might think of our collective behaviour as honourable or shameful, but our nation does not feel our emotion, even though we cast it in a human light as motherland or fatherland.

In our temporary emotion, we might push the government into taking a position that is actually harmful to the nation in concrete economic terms, though it might make us feel better emotionally.

In most democracies, foreign policy is not in the domain of popular opinion for the first reason: people do not care. Americans didn’t care about their country’s policies regarding Afghanistan, till the September 11 attacks brought Afghanistan, and the emotion of vengeance, into the domain of popular opinion and Bush declared war.

America’s relationship with Iraq also came into public opinion, and it inverted what had been a popular presidency. Foreign policy cost the Republican Party their legislative majority because the public quickly corrected their mistake, which had been made in a fit of anti-Arab emotion.

India fought China in 1962 and lost. The Chinese withdrew from most of the captured Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh voluntarily, but Indians still fear China.

Partly this has to do with that nation’s size and power. But it also has to do with the fact that we cannot understand the Chinese, and they are alien to us.

Indians cannot think about China unemotionally or rationally and so that creates a problem for the government.

For a few weeks, stories on China have been prominent in India. The one that caused most anxiety was the report that Chinese soldiers were trespassing on the Indian side of the border.

Had there been a skirmish? No. Had any Chinese been seen? No.

What the report was based on was some rocks that had been found which had Chinese writing on them.

Much coverage was given to this, and the Chinese know that Indians respond to the slightest shift and so they keep us unbalanced.

The media in democracies understands public opinion quite well, especially television, which is quite alert to what sort of story works because it gets feedback through ratings.

In successive weeks we had stories of the Chinese stamping visas for Jammu and Kashmir residents on loose leaves instead of their passport; Chinese objections to Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh (based on an internet poll); and then a story about a dam being raised over the Brahmaputra, which originates in China and then flows into India. This last story was probably the one that should have worried us most, but that got mention only in one newspaper because it doesn’t concern national honour.

Left to itself, this government will probably sort out matters with China easily, because India in 2009 is not the India of 50 years ago. But being pushed forward by the fearful and enraged public behind it makes its job tougher.

It is an example of an issue that has become complicated by being in the public realm.

Something similar is happening in Pakistan, where some are opposed to the Kerry-Lugar bill which President Zardari’s government thinks will be good for Pakistan.

The US government will give Pakistan $7.5 billion through 2014. It is very unlikely the majority of Pakistanis know what $ 7.5 billion means; certainly most Indians would not know. This is because we do not use million and billion, but lakh and crore.

What the US is giving is Rs622.5 billion in exchange for fighting extremism in the Frontier. This is Rs3,660 for every Pakistani.

America wants to make this money conditional, which is its right as a donor. As a recipient of aid, Pakistan is entitled to reject conditions and go its own way.

But it is already fighting a war against extremism. And it is doing this with an effectiveness that can be seen in the desperation of last week’s attacks.

Pakistan is fighting this war because Zardari’s government believes it’s the right thing for Pakistan. Some of those urging Pakistan to reject this money have been wrong before. Some of them said earlier that the Taliban should not be fought, that they were a threat only because of America’s war. But that line of argument ended after the Pakistan army’s stunning success in Swat.

The people who are disturbed by America’s possible infringing on the sovereignty of the Pakistan government could also respond to the real infringement of sovereignty that happened when the army expressed its concern on the Kerry-Lugar bill. The Pakistan army is a servant of the government and has as much of a right to express its concern publicly as any other government department.

One of the conditions of the bill is that Pakistan’s army remain out of politics. This is good news for all Pakistanis who like democracy because it supports their cause, but it might have upset GHQ. The army should have raised his irritation or concern in private with the government, to whom he reports, rather than send a public memo through the media. In India if an armed forces chief were to do that, he would be fired from his job – and that is what sovereignty is really about.

To outsiders it is difficult to understand what the fear of Pakistanis over Kerry-Lugar is; or why Pakistan’s honour has been stained by accepting these conditions.

America will withhold money if Pakistan does not act to prevent a repeat of the proliferation which happened under A Q Khan. But surely that is something that the Pakistani government and army must also be concerned about.

The US says that groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad must be acted against, but that is something that is already happening.

It’s quite silly to say that we will do something that benefits us, but only if America doesn’t say we have to do it.

Pakistan is served by some very competent ministers, like Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who’s really world-class, and there should not be an irrational fear that they are acting against Pakistani interest. They should be allowed to do their job without the press of public opinion that is based on emotion more than it is on rational thoughts about where the benefit to Pakistan really lies.

Pakistan’s brave soldiers are shedding blood on behalf of the international community in the war against extremism. Pakistan must be compensated for that, and that is what the Kerry-Lugar bill is actually about.

The writer is director with Hill Road Media in Bombay. Email: aakar@ (The News)