Friday, October 9, 2009

Where has US aid to Pakistan gone? Mariana Baabar

Mariana Baabar is a senior Pakistani journalist and diplomatic editor of the Islamabad-based newspaper, The News International and also contribute for Outlook India

Note: Link is dead therefor pardon for full text! The article was published in The News International. Supporting US Congress Report by K. Alan Kronstadt, a specialist in South Asian affairs for the Congressional Research Service, is at the end.

Where has US aid to Pakistan gone? Mariana Baabar [STORY APPEARED IN 2007]

ISLAMABAD : The billions of dollars in US military aid to Pakistan since September 11, 2001, without any accountability, has now been billed as a “tsunami of new funding”.

Washington’s Centre for Public Integrity, in its report, says that today human rights activists, critics of the Pakistani government and members of Congress want to know, where most of the money — totalling in the billions — coming through a Defence Department programme, subject to virtually no Congressional oversight, has disappeared to.

The Centre says that this is a major finding of more than a year of investigation by the Centre for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). US military aid to Pakistan since September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks includes almost $5 billion in coalition support funds, a programme controlled by the Defence Department to reimburse key allies in the global war on terror. Pentagon reports that the ICIJ obtained through the Freedom of Information Act requests show that Pakistan is the No 1 recipient of these funds — receiving more than 10 times the amount that went to the No 2 recipient, Poland — and that there is scant documentation of how the money was used.

Pakistan also benefited from other funding mechanisms set up in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. In three years after the attacks, Pakistan was the third-largest recipient of the Pentagon’s new regional defence counter terrorism fellowship programme, designed to train foreign forces in counter terrorism techniques. More than $23 million was earmarked for Pakistan in fiscal 2006 for “improving counter terrorism strike capabilities” under another new Pentagon programme referred to colloquially as Section 1206 training, which allows the Pentagon to use a portion of its annual funding from Congress to train and equip foreign militaries. Pakistan finished first in the race for this new Pentagon-controlled training.

The US State Department rates Pakistan’s human rights record as poor and reports a long litany of abuses. That nourishes critics’ claims that the US largesse has been put to abusive purposes, including to buy weapons that have been turned against Pakistani civilians and to offer bounties on suspects the US is seeking. According to Senator Sana Baloch, an opposition lawmaker who fled the country out of safety concerns, the US has several military bases inside Pakistan, including some in the senator’s home province of Balochistan. “Most of the US bases are based in Balochistan,” Baloch told ICIJ in an interview. “One or two of them are in Kharan, my own home district. The US is using the bases in this area for the war on terror. We are very supportive of the US in this role.”

The majority of the new US funding to Pakistan has come in the form of billions of dollars of coalition support funds (CSF), a post-9/11 funding mechanism created to reimburse key countries for expenses incurred in supporting American counter terrorism operations. According to K Alan Kronstadt, an expert on South Asia at the Congressional research service, by August 2006, CSF accounted for roughly $4.75 billion of the military aid Pakistan received from the US since the terrorist attacks. Pentagon documents obtained by ICIJ say the money that went to Pakistan was largely for “military operations on the Afghanistan border.”

Coalition support funds are considered a reimbursement by some and a blank check by others. Craig Cohen, the co-author of a recent Centre for Strategic and International Study on US aid to Pakistan, asked rhetorically whether CSF money is “intended to yield some sort of specific action on the part of the government,” adding, “If so, there’s clearly no oversight.”

Olga Oliker, an expert on US defence policy and co-author of a recent RAND think tank report on the human rights performance of internal security forces in South Asia, said she’s concerned that US-made weapons that go to Pakistani security forces and US training that the forces receive are being used against civilian populations. “In implementing assistance,” she told ICIJ, “the US has paid relatively little attention to human rights abuses and oversight. People weren’t paying attention.”

The new Democratic-controlled Congress has taken a greater interest in CSF payments to Pakistan. Under the previous GOP majority, there was virtually no oversight of CSF payments to any country. In January 2007, the House of Representatives acted to impose conditions on military aid to Pakistan by adopting the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007. Section 1442 of the bill relates to Pakistan. It identifies areas of concern for US policy, including the need for Pakistan to curb the proliferation of nuclear technology, to address the presence of the Taliban and other extremist forces and to secure its borders to prevent movement of terrorists. The bill would impose limits on foreign assistance to Pakistan, declaring that the US assistance may not be approved until “the president determines and certifies to the appropriate Congressional committees that the government of Pakistan is making all possible efforts to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its sovereign control. “In addition, Pakistan would be required to demonstrate that it is making significant steps toward free and fair parliamentary elections in 2007.” The bill also requires that the president submit a report describing the long-term strategy of US engagement with Pakistan.

“The American-supplied military arsenal has been used against Baloch nationalists,” Senator Baloch told ICIJ. He said he and others have gone to the State Department, “and the State Department says [the US has] given military hardware with no conditions.” A former US official, previously based in Pakistan, acknowledged to the ICIJ that in Balochistan “the [Pakistani] army stepped in with a pretty heavy hand last year.”


Pakistan and Terrorism: A Summary K. Alan Kronstadt Specialist in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division


This report provides a summary review of issues related to Pakistan and terrorism, especially in the context of U.S. interests, policy goals, and relevant assistance.1 The outcomes of U.S. policies toward Pakistan since 9/11, while not devoid of meaningful successes, have neither neutralized anti-Western militants and reduced religious extremism in that country, nor have they contributed sufficiently to the stabilization of neighboring Afghanistan. Many observers thus urge a broad re-evaluation of such policies. For a substantive review, see a forthcoming CRS Report entitled Pakistan and Terrorism. This report will be updated periodically.

In the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush launched major military operations as part of a global U.S.-led antiterrorism effort. Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan has realized major successes with the vital assistance of neighboring Pakistan. Yet a resurgent Taliban today operates in southern and eastern Afghanistan with the benefit of apparent sanctuary in parts of western Pakistan. [1 Sources for this report include, inter alia, the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, congressional transcripts, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, regional press reports, and major newswires.]

The United States is increasingly concerned that members of Al Qaeda, its Taliban supporters, and other Islamist militants find safe haven in Pakistani cities such as Quetta and Peshawar, as well as in the rugged Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. This latter area is inhabited by ethnic Pashtuns who express solidarity with anti-U.S. forces. Al Qaeda militants also reportedly have made alliances with indigenous Pakistani terrorist groups that have been implicated in both anti-Western attacks in Pakistan and terrorism in India. These groups seek to oust the Islamabad government of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and have been implicated in assassination attempts that were only narrowly survived by the Pakistani leader and other top officials. In fact, Pakistan’s struggle with militant Islamist extremism appears for some to have become a matter of survival for that country. As more evidence arises exposing Al Qaeda’s deadly new alliance with indigenous Pakistani militants — and related conflict continues to cause death and disruption in Pakistan’s western regions — concern about Pakistan’s fundamental political and social stability has increased. In his January 2007 State of the Union Address, President Bush said, “We didn’t drive Al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.” Yet many observers warn that an American preoccupation with Iraq has contributed to allowing the emergence of new Al Qaeda safe havens in western Pakistan.

U.S. Policy and Concerns

South Asia is viewed as a key arena in the fight against militant religious extremism, most especially in Pakistan and as related to Afghan stability. In November 2006, the State Department’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, said, “It is in South Asia where our future success in the struggle against global terrorism will likely be decided — in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”2 The 9/11 Commission Report emphasized that mounting large-scale international terrorist attacks appears to require sanctuaries in which terrorist groups can plan and operate with impunity. It further claimed that Pakistan’s “vast unpoliced regions” remained attractive to extremist groups. The Commission identified the government of President Musharraf as the best hope for stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and recommended that the United States make a long-term commitment to provide comprehensive support for Islamabad so long as Pakistan itself is committed to combating extremism and to a policy of “enlightened moderation.”3

In January 2007 Senate testimony assessing global threats, the outgoing Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, captured in two sentences the dilemma Pakistan now poses for U.S. policy makers: “Pakistan is a frontline partner in the war on terror. Nevertheless, it remains a major source of Islamic extremism and the home for some top terrorist leaders.” In what were surely well-calculated remarks, he went on to identify Al Qaeda as posing the single greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its interests, and warned that the organization’s “core elements ... maintain active connections and relationships that radiate outward from their leaders’ secure hideouts in Pakistan.”4 This latter reference was considered the strongest such statement to date by a high-ranking Bush Administration official. Throughout the opening months of 2007, Administration officials, U.S. military commanders, and senior U.S. Senators issued further incriminating statements about Pakistan’s assumed status as a terrorist base and the allegedly insufficient response of the Islamabad government.

The United States also remains concerned with indigenous extremist groups in Pakistan, and with the ongoing “cross-border infiltration” of Islamist militants who traverse the Kashmiri Line of Control and other borders to engage in terrorist acts in India and Indian Kashmir. Many analysts consider such activities conceptually inseparable from the problem of Islamist militancy in western Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Domestic terrorism in Pakistan, much of it associated with Islamist sectarianism, has become an increasingly serious problem affecting major Pakistani cities. Separatist violence in India’s Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state has continued unabated since 1989, with some notable relative decline in recent years. Many experts reject efforts by the Pakistani government and others to draw significant distinctions between U.S.- and Indian-designated terrorist groups fighting in Kashmir and those fighting in western Pakistan and Afghanistan, and in Pakistan’s interior. India blames Pakistan for the infiltration of Islamist militants into Indian Kashmir, a charge Islamabad denies. The United States reportedly has received pledges from Islamabad that all “cross-border terrorism” would cease and that any terrorist facilities in Pakistani-controlled areas would be closed. Similar pledges have been made to India.

Numerous experts raise questions about the determination, sincerity, and effectiveness of Pakistani government efforts to combat religious extremists. Doubts are widely held by Western experts, many of whom express concerns about the implications of maintaining present U.S. policies toward the region, and about the efficacy of Islamabad’s latest strategy, which appears to seek reconciliation with pro-Taliban militants.5 Islamabad is adamant in asserting that it serves its own self-interests through closer relations with the United States since 2001, that there should be no doubts about the sincerity of its anti-terrorism policies (with a corollary that any failings in this area are rooted in Pakistan’s capabilities rather than in its intentions), and that solely military efforts to combat religious militancy are bound to fail. Instead, Pakistani officials aver, the so-called “war on terrorism” must emphasize socioeconomic uplift and resolution of outstanding disputes in the Muslim world, including in Kashmir, Palestine, and Iraq.6 The outcomes of U.S. policies toward Pakistan since 9/11, while not devoid of meaningful successes, have neither neutralized anti-Western militants and reduced religious extremism in that country, nor have they contributed sufficiently to the stabilization of neighboring Afghanistan. Many observers thus urge a broad re-evaluation of such policies, including a questioning of a seeming U.S. reliance on the institution of the Pakistani military and on the person of President Musharraf, along with a shifting of considerable U.S. assistance funds toward programs that might better engender long-term stability in Pakistan.7

Congressional Action

In June 2003, President Bush hosted President Musharraf at Camp David, Maryland, where he vowed to work with Congress on establishing a five-year, $3 billion aid package for Pakistan. Annual installments of $600 million each, split evenly between military and economic aid, began in FY2005. In the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458), the 108th Congress broadly endorsed the recommendations of The 9/11 Commission Report by calling for U.S. aid to Pakistan to be sustained at a minimum of FY2005 levels and requiring the President to report to Congress a description of long-term U.S. strategy to engage with and support Pakistan. The premiere House resolution of the 110th Congress (H.R. 1, the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) was passed in January 2007. Section 1442 of the act contains discussion of U.S. policy toward Pakistan, including a requirement that the President report to Congress a long-term U.S. strategy for engaging Pakistan and making a statement of policy that further waivers of coup-related aid sanctions “should be informed by the pace of democratic reform, extension of the rule of law, and the conduct of the parliamentary elections” scheduled to take place in late 2007. Perhaps most notably, the section includes a provision that would end U.S. military assistance and arms sales licensing to that country in FY2008 unless the President certifies that the Islamabad government is “making all possible efforts” to end Taliban activities on Pakistani soil.

Many analysts view Section 1442 as a signal that a Democratic-controlled Congress may pressure the Bush Administration to review its Pakistan policy, although many also warn that such overt conditionality is counterproductive to the goal of closer U.S.- Pakistan relations. The Bush Administration explicitly opposes the certification provision on such grounds and it instead urges that the certification be replaced with a reporting requirement.8 A Senate version of the House bill (S. 4) was passed in March, but contains no Pakistan-specific language. In response to U.S. congressional signals of a possible shift in U.S. policy toward Islamabad, the Pakistani National Assembly’s Defense Committee unanimously passed a resolution threatening to end or reduce Islamabad’s cooperation on counterterrorism if U.S. aid to Pakistan were to be made conditional.

U.S. Government Assistance and Policy Options

Direct U.S. Foreign Assistance and Coalition Support Funding. In the years since September 2001, Pakistan has received nearly $1.5 billion in direct U.S. security-related assistance (Foreign Military Financing totaling $970 million plus about $516 million for other programs). Congress also has appropriated billions of dollars to reimburse Pakistan for its support of U.S.-led counterterrorism operations. Some 80% of Defense Department spending for coalition support payments to “Pakistan, Jordan, and other key cooperating nations” has gone to Islamabad. At $4.75 billion to date, averaging more than $80 million per month, the amount is equal to more than one-quarter of Pakistan’s total military expenditures. The Bush Administration requested another $1 billion in emergency supplemental coalition support funds for FY2007, however, H.R. 1591, passed by the full House on March 23, 2007, called for only $300 million in such funds. The Administration also has requested another $1.7 billion in coalition support for FY2008. In justifying these requests, the Administration claims that coalition support payments to Pakistan have led to “a more stable [Pakistan-Afghanistan] border area.”

Arms Transfers. Major U.S. defense sales and grants in recent years have included advanced aircraft and missiles. The Pentagon reports Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreements with Pakistan worth $836 million in FY2003-FY2005. In-process sales of F-16 combat aircraft raised the FY2006 value to nearly $3.5 billion. (In June 2006, the Pentagon notified Congress of a planned FMS for Pakistan worth up to $5.1 billion. The deal involves up to 36 advanced F-16s, along with related refurbishments, munitions, and equipment, and would represent the largest-ever weapons sale to Pakistan.) The Pentagon has characterized F-16 fighters, P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, and anti-armor missiles as having significant anti-terrorism applications, a claim that elicits skepticism from some analysts.

Security Assistance. Security-related U.S. assistance programs for Pakistan are said to be aimed especially at bolstering Islamabad’s counterterrorism and border security efforts, and have included U.S.-funded road-building projects in western Pakistan and the provision of night-vision equipment, communications gear, protective vests, and transport helicopters and aircraft. The United States also has undertaken to train and equip new Pakistan Army Air Assault units that can move quickly to find and target terrorist elements. U.S. security assistance to Pakistan’s civilian sector is aimed at strengthening the country’s law enforcement capabilities through basic police training, provision of advanced identification systems, and establishment of a new Counterterrorism Special Investigation Group. U.S. efforts may be hindered by Pakistani shortcomings that include poorly trained and poorly equipped personnel who generally are underpaid by ineffectively coordinated and overburdened government agencies.

Possible Adjustments to U.S. Assistance Programs. Many commentators on U.S. assistance programs for Pakistan have recommended making adjustments to the proportion of funds devoted to military versus economic aid and/or to the objectives of such programs. Currently, funds are split roughly evenly between economic and securityrelated aid programs, with the great bulk of the former going to a general economic (budget) support fund and most of the latter financing “big ticket” defense articles such as airborne early warning aircraft, and anti-ship and anti-armor missiles. It may be useful to better target U.S. assistance programs in such a way that they more effectively benefit the country’s citizens. One former senior Senate staffer has called for improving America’s image in Pakistan by making U.S. aid more visible to ordinary Pakistanis.9

An idea commonly floated by analysts is the “conditioning” of aid to Pakistan, perhaps through the creation of “benchmarks.” For example, in 2003, a task force of senior American South Asia watchers issued a report on U.S. policy in the region which included a recommendation that the extent of U.S. support for Islamabad should be linked to that government’s own performance in making Pakistan a more “modern, progressive, and democratic state” as promised by President Musharraf in January 2002. Specifically, the task force urged directing two-thirds of U.S. aid to economic programs and one-third to security assistance, and conditioning increases in aid amounts to progress in Pakistan’s reform agenda.10 A more recent perspective is representative of ongoing concerns about the emphases of U.S. aid programs:

[T]he United States has given Musharraf considerable slack in meeting his commitments to deal with domestic extremism or his promises to restore authentic democracy. The U.S. partnership with Pakistan would probably be on firmer footing through conditioned programs more dedicated to building the country’s political and social institutions than rewarding its leadership.11 Other analysts, however, including those making policy for the Bush Administration, believe that conditioning U.S. aid to Pakistan has a past record failure and likely would be counterproductive. Some add that putting additional pressure on an already besieged
Musharraf government might lead to significant political instability in Islamabad. The Bush Administration has come under fire from some quarters for overemphasizing its relationship with the person of Pervez Musharraf — an army general who came to power through extra-constitutional means — at the expense of democratization processes in Pakistan and, further, for maintaining a single-minded focus on anti-terrorism that has “given a pass” to Musharraf and the Pakistani military in the areas of nuclear proliferation, rule of law, and human rights. For several years, veteran Pakistan watchers have been calling attention to the potential problems inherent in a U.S. over-reliance on President Musharraf as an individual at alleged cost to more positive development of Pakistan’s democratic institutions and civil society.12 In 2006, two former senior U.S. diplomats jointly urged the Bush Administration to move beyond its fairly limited focus on the person of Pervez Musharraf by creating better links with a wider array of pro-democracy civil society elements there.13

More substantive military-to-military relations could be of significant benefit to overall U.S.-Pakistan relations and the attainment of U.S. goals in South Asia. Related sanctions imposed on Pakistan in 1990 were in some respects harmful to subsequent U.S. interests in the region. For example, the suspension of military training (IMET) programs meant that for more than a decade there was no exchange between the Pakistani and U.S. militaries. A Washington-based expert on the Pakistani military has insisted that such exchanges are crucial in encouraging a liberal, secular outlook among Pakistan’s officer corps, and provide the United States unique access to that country’s leading institution.14 In apparent response to growing concerns about the course of events in Pakistan and in U.S.-Pakistan relations, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher met with top Pakistani leaders in Islamabad in mid-March, where he lauded Pakistan’s role as a vital U.S. ally and announced a new five-year, $750 million aid initiative for development programs in Pakistan’s western tribal regions. The Administration also will seek Pentagon authority to spend $75 million in FY2007 funds to improve the capacity of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps.

SOURCE: US Congress.




K Alan Kronstadt, an expert on South Asian affairs and a senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service, is acclaimed in Washington, DC for his understanding of India, Pakistan, their conflict over Kashmir, and other issues, both defence and trade-related. As an analyst at CRS, which is a kind of in-house think-tank for the United States Congress, his reports on Pakistan and terrorism and US-Pakistan relations are eagerly studied by Washington policymakers. Courtesy: Not enough time in US Congress to pass deal: Expert

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