Tell America “thank you”
The Wall Street Journal reported the other day that “the White House has started conditioning the award of billions of dollars in security assistance to Pakistan on whether Islamabad shows progress on a ‘secret scorecard’ of U.S. objectives to combat al Qaeda and its militant allies”.
Under the new approach, the office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is compiling classified scorecards that track Pakistan’s cooperation in four areas, referred to in the White House as “baskets.” Each basket contains a to-do list that the administration wants from Pakistan. Washington has told Islamabad that future payouts of security assistance would hinge on Pakistan showing it is making progress in these four areas, U.S. officials said. After Abbottabad episode, American media had reported that the US gave Pakistan a list to ‘dos’ , but a spokesman for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency denied the U.S. having formally presented Pakistan with such a list and said it was Pakistan’s prerogative to decide how to combat terrorism and conduct relations with Afghanistan.
Earlier, threat to stop the aid or vows to make the aid conditional is not surprising, as a debt-ridden America fighting a costly war is not in a position to meet its commitments of aid to many countries of the world including Pakistan for cooperation in war on terror. It has to be said that flawed American policies in Afghanistan have exacerbated the situation. And what to speak of Pakistan, not even the world’s best war machines can now bail out America from that quagmire. The problem is that in the face of intense American public pressure and economic constraints, Obama administration has to reduce its expenditure but in the process is making Pakistan a scapegoat for its failures. It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s leadership did not challenge this myth of American aid. They also do not speak when this country, its institutions, its military, its intelligence agencies are being vilified, demonized and pilloried. Pakistani leadership should have told America ‘thank you’ very much for stopping the aid. After all, Pakistan had survived all sanctions imposed on it after Soviet forces were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan.
American leadership continues to hammer home the point that Pakistan received $20 billion from 2002 to 2010. But in April 2011, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Hafiz Sheikh dismissed as a myth that this country was a major recipient of tens of billions of dollars in U.S. aid. According to the Reuters, Finance Minister Hafiz Shaikh had told an audience in Washington that the United States had not delivered what it promised under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Law aid package meant to provide $7.5 billion in civilian aid over five years. He had said: “Pakistan had not yet received $300 million of a promised $1.5 billion this year”. Reuters had also cited a US Government Accountability Office report as saying that while Congress had appropriated the first tranche of $1.5 billion in Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid to Pakistan in fiscal 2010, but just $179.5 million of this aid had been disbursed by the end of 2010. According to KLB, military aid figure is $400 million per year, which is not a big deal. After deduction of perks and fees of American monitors and auditors, it would be $300, and converted in Rupees the figure is 25 billion, which is not even 5 percent of Pakistan’s defence budget.
It was perhaps in this backdrop that Pakistani military had decided to forgo direct US military assistance, and requested the government to divert toward economic projects whatever funds being provided by US as military aid. According to spokesperson of the ISPR, “actual military assistance received from US during the 10-year period since the Afghan war began was only 1.4 billion dollars. He said that figure of 13-15 billion dollars bandied about by the Americans was much exaggerated, as Pakistan actually received 8.6 billion dollars out of which 6 billion dollars were used by civilian government for “budgetary support”. In fact, whatever America gave in the form of Coalition Support Fund should not be counted as aid, as it was reimbursement of the expenses incurred in connection with supplies to Pakistan military including fuel, equipment and other supplies for deployment of more than 100000 military personnel to face the messy situation created by the US. Anyhow, the US is still withholding more than $1.5 billion because Pakistan did not allow visas for auditors to verify those expenses, which is ruse.
The US movers and shakers are also fuming and growling these days that Pakistan is not allowing “free movement” to their diplomats on our land. Of course, they have a very ‘strong reason’ for their grouse, because until a few months ago Pakistan was just a free territory for them where they could do whatever they liked, operate the way they wanted and roam about wherever they felt like. The things changed only after one of their CIA contractors, Raymond Davis, murdered two Pakistani nationals in Lahore in broad daylight, and later their navy commandoes raided Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad hideout. Since long, our citizens by and large were clamouring that the Americans under the cover of their specious war on terror were playing foul with this country. And these two events brought home to Islamabad’s hierarchs that their American “friends” were taking them for a ride. They realised that all those American chants of Pakistan being a strategic partner were a big ruse. Pakistan in the American eyes was no more than a valet to their political bosses and a foot soldier to their war commanders.
Had it not been for the public pressure, Islamabad’s top echelons might have perhaps continued to tread the beaten track. But the public heat was too intense. They had had to change tack. Americans indeed want those times back when their spies and agents would roam freely on our roads and streets, with guns in their vehicles and cameras in their hands, filming our sensitive areas like cantonments, garrisons and high-security locations. And if intercepted or stopped, they would insult our security personnel disdainfully and arrogantly. But such things occur when the leaders of a nation sell their souls for some transient personal gains and sell off their nation cheap to the aliens. In 1950s, the first sin of joining the defence pacts with the West was made. Later, one dictator decided to join the Afghan war and made Pakistan a frontline state after the Soviet forces landed in Afghanistan. His successors too succumbed to the temptation of currying American favours at any cost and in any event. Our present leadership should understand that stoppage of aid could prove blessing in disguise. It should therefore say “thank you’ for not giving aid, and learn to live at its own.