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Blank cheque for Pakistan

Blank cheque for Pakistan

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: October 9, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/207706/Blank-cheque-for-Pakistan.html

America keeps pampering Islamabad

It is absolutely shocking that the Obama Administration, in spite of all its talk of evolving a new, inclusive strategy to deal with Pakistan, has decided to dole out more American dollars to Islamabad without any strings attached. The US Congress legislation that was passed last week will see Pakistan receive civilian aid worth $ 7.5 billion over a period of five years along with military aid of an unspecified amount. The aid package is ostensibly meant for democratic, economic and social development programmes aimed at alleviating poverty and diminishing the allure of Islamist groups among Pakistani youth. Had the Obama Administration really been serious about effecting a qualitative change in its approach towards Pakistan, this aid package represented a golden opportunity. But by clarifying that the aid was unconditional and, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry put it, a "real sign of friendship of the American people towards the people of Pakistan," the US has squandered away what could have been a key policy initiative. For all practical purpose what the aid package now boils down to is a blank cheque without any conditions or accountability. Islamabad can literally do whatever it feels like with the money and what policy-makers in Washington, DC, are saying is that they are fine with it.

Needless to say this is a perfect recipe for disaster. That Islamabad has been diverting American aid - civilian and military - to finance terrorism and arm itself against India is no secret. Neither can the argument be made that the US is unaware of this reality. When you have a former Pakistani President openly admit in a television interview that he had used American aid meant for fighting terrorism to strengthen his country's conventional military prowess vis-à-vis India, one would think that it would be adequate proof of Pakistan's nefarious designs. Yet the Obama Administration would like the world to believe that Pakistan can be reformed through nothing more than good old fashion TLC. The truth is Washington's latest unthinking policy initiative is symptomatic of the fact that President Obama and his team have painted themselves into a corner on their much-touted AfPak policy. With elections in Afghanistan not going according to plan and a Taliban that simply won't go away - as the recent bombing of the UN World Food Program office in Islamabad showed - the US feels obliged to keep Pakistan in good humour. So when Pakistani politicians made a hue and cry about the new US aid package seeking to subvert the sovereignty of their Government, the Obama Administration hurriedly made a slew of clarifications to reassure them that this wasn't the case. Unless and until Washington, DC, realises it is time that it adopts the carrot-and-stick policy for Pakistan, it cannot hope to reverse the surge in terrorism emanating from that country. Meanwhile, the world should brace for more terror attacks.


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