Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Making hay while the sun shines

The generous military aid to Pakistan by the US is a result of its efforts to stop al-Qaeda and the Taliban, reports Shahid Hussain from Pakistan

Faced with the imminent threat that the US might leave Pakistan in the lurch again to deal with extremist forces once it withdraws from Afghanistan in 2011, the Pakistan government, especially its army, is trying its best to make hay while the sun shines and extract as much military and economic aid from the superpower as possible.

No wonder the Pakistan delegation that visited the Washington last week to negotiate with the US leaders comprised Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq ParvezKayani, and the Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, something unprecedented in Pakistan’s 62-year-old chequered history.

The message was clear: security issues would be dealt with by the army. The Americans too welcomed the composition of the Pakistan delegation despite repeated suspicion that a certain lobby in the Pakistan establishment plays a double game and keeps its contacts with the Taliban alive. One reason for this complicity could be that it is the Pakistan army that is fighting the “war on terror” against the al-Qaeda and the Taliban and it is better to deal with them directly and assure them that Pakistan-US cooperation would continue despite odds.

Ahead of “strategic dialogue” between Pakistan and the US, Gen. Kayani held parleys with US defense secretary Robert Gates, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command, and other senior US military officials, indicating it was the army that calls the shots.

Faced with anti-Americanism at home, it was essential that the Pakistan delegation does not return home emptyhanded. The US leaders did not let them down despite rhetoric for the last couple of months that they expected Pakistan to “do more.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been reported to have said the US has made a “strategic priority” to strengthen its partnership with Pakistan. In a testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, she declared that US efforts in Pakistan were vital for America’s success in Afghanistan. The hearings help set the stage for the upcoming debate this spring over the White House requests for $33 billion in new war funding coupled with $4.5 billion in foreign assistance, chiefly for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to official figures, US has given Pakistan $15.4 billion since 2002. Two-thirds of the aid is security-related.

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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