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Q+A: Kerry Luger Bill

October 8, 2009

Kamran Haider and Augustine Anthony

ISLAMABAD, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s parliament has begun debate on a U.S. aid bill which critics say contains conditions that amount to a humiliating violation of sovereignty. The U.S. congress approved a bill on Sept. 30 tripling aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for the next five years and sent it to President Barack Obama for signing into law.

But Pakistan’s army on Wednesday expressed “serious concern” about the bill, raising the possibility of tension with the civilian government which could embolden government critics.

Here are some questions and answers about the controversy.

WHAT ARE THE CONTROVERSIAL CONDITIONS?

The legislation, co-authored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, mainly focuses on social and economic development of Pakistan, a front-line state in the U.S.-led campaign against Islamist militancy. No conditions have been attached to development aid. But in an effort to address U.S. concerns about terrorism, security related assistance depends upon the U.S. secretary of state certifying to relevant congressional committees the following:

– That Pakistan is cooperating in efforts to dismantle nuclear-weapons related material supplier networks and providing relevant information from, or direct access to, Pakistani nationals associated with such networks.

– That the government is making sustained efforts towards combatting militant groups and has made progress on ceasing support by any elements within the military or its intelligence agency, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan or against the territory or people of neighbouring countries.

– That Pakistan is preventing al Qaeda and other militant groups including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was accused of last November’s assault on the Indian city of Mumbai, from operating in Pakistan and attacking neighbouring countries.

– That Pakistan is dismantling terrorist bases in its northwest as well as in the city of Quetta and at Muridke in Punjab, where LeT supporters run a complex.

– That the Pakistani security forces are not “materially or substantially” subverting political or judicial processes.

The U.S. secretary of state must also provide an assessment of the extent to which the government exercises effective civilian control of the military, including a description of the extent to which civilian leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command and the process of promotion of top military leaders.

WHO IS SAYING WHAT?

Opposition politicians have criticised the government of President Asif Ali Zardari over the bill, saying the conditions are humiliating. Zardari has rejected the criticism, saying the bill’s conditions do not undermine sovereignty.

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and his top commanders met on Wednesday and expressed “serious concern” about clauses in the bill “impacting on national security”. The military leaders did not elaborate but acknowledged it was parliament that would debate the issue and enable the government to respond. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani tried to soothe concern, telling the National Assembly the bill was not binding on Pakistan and vowing to build a consensus on it.

DOES THIS MEAN TENSION BETWEEN THE ARMY AND GOVERNMENT?

The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half its 62-year history and has a record of ousting civilian governments, so any disagreement between the military and the government will be watched closely. But for now, no one is predicting military intervention. However, analysts say the military’s public disapproval of the bill could embolden the government’s critics who could take to the streets. The military could use the opposition to put pressure on the government over the clauses it objects to while avoiding direct conflict. The main opposition party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the last Pakistani leader to be deposed in a coup in 1999, has said it would not help or allow anybody to topple the government.

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3 comments

  1. army should confront bc as pakistani we know there is no good governance in pakistan and they arent taking steps this aid means that in recent years there is more aid and than another in this way the whole pakistan will be for sale and there nuclear power who is the one given the power to americans to criticize pakistan nuclear power they have the nuclear power india got no one blaming them but all are blaming to pakistan and iran why is that so????i have a beliif on our army and ill stand with the army.


  2. The writer(s)have failed to mention the polarisation in politics in Pakistan.This polarisation is created and encouraged by America,as scores of US diplomats come to Pakistan(not heard of that in India),meet so called politicians,assuring everyone that America is with them.
    These politicians create a point of no return,taking the country to dead end.Only then,military has to intervene.
    Take the case of ZAB.Election rigging,”pahiya jams”,
    reluctantly agreeing for holding re-elections.But then came reports that ZAB wanted to eliminate top generals(thus weakening the Army)and 20-30 senior political leaders.The reason why ZAB was hanged,was that there was one grave waiting either ZAB or Zia.

    In the case of Musharraf,Nawaz fired him because constitution authorised him to do so.A case of “Bandar kay hath mein nariyal”.

    Moreover when Army wanted a peaceful transition to civil govt.,Zia was eliminated so also Benazir and Musharraf was shown exit.

    As long as America will continue with conspiracies,Pakistan will remain in turmoil,as political leadership is insane.Cannot see things beyond their nose. Good examples being lengthy and senseless judicial crisis and demand of enforcing Article 6.


  3. Several serious political issues have taken over the media and garnered national attention over the past few weeks. These include President Zardari’s trip to the United States, the Punjab government requesting a delay in the by-poll elections the bomb blast at the World Food Program UN office in Islamabad and of course, the Kerry-Lugar Bill seems to be leading in the popular vote. The question is, with immense opposition brewing and the government allowing an open debate in the National Assembly, will we be able to find a viable solution?

    http://ahraza.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/lets-not-kill-the-moment/



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