Chicago and Pakistan
Appropriately, Congress passed the Kerry-Lugar “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009” and the International Olympic Committee made its much anticipated decision just as the baseball season drew to a close.
Yep, the Windy City’s National League franchise remained America’s team (it keeps on bombing) and the IOC chimed in (slightly twisting the Cubs’ theme song), “Hey America, what do you say, Chicago’s going to lose today.”
An AP article in my local paper was headlined “Chicago faced anti-U.S. votes,” bringing Pakistan into the picture:
“Some people just don’t like the way Americans do things.
“One IOC member, Syed Shahid Ali of Pakistan, told Obama that foreigners ‘can go through a rather harrowing experience’ getting into the United States and asked how he intended to deal with that when thousands of people come for the 2016 games.
“Obama replied that ‘America, at its best, is open to the world,’ and the presentation ended with no further questions.
“‘This is an easy way for countries to express resentment toward us, as a superpower, without suffering any consequences, like having their foreign aid cut off or their weapons programs cut off,’ said Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track and Field. ‘It’s an easy way for them to express a great amount of displeasure.'”
As a Pakistani-American was attesting to in a blog picked up by the Yahoo Pakistan page, IOC member Ali didn’t go far enough, it’s not only “foreigners” who “can go through a harrowing experience getting into the United States.”
But that’s just an aside, the real business here is to indulge in some conspiracy theory. Had CEO Logan been reading the Pakistani press in the wake of the Kerry-Lugar bill’s passage last week, the idea may have occurred to him that Ali, as a patriot, spoke out in the hope, however vain, that Pakistan indeed would be made “to suffer” the “consequence” of “having its foreign aid cut off.”
What follows are Kerry-Lugar-related excerpts mostly from Dawn, The News International and The Nation. The articles, mostly op-ed, raise three Pakistani concerns with the aid package.
a) Lack of democratic process
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
By Aamir Yasin
ISLAMABAD: Criticising the Kerry-Lugar Bill adopted in the US Senate, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday termed the US aid to Pakistan â€˜peanutsâ€™ and demanded the government present the conditions of the new aid package to the National Assembly and accept it only after parliamentary approval.
The News International
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Senators blast Kerry-Lugar bill
ISLAMABAD: As the opposition in the Senate on Friday raised strong objections to the strings attached to the Kerry-Lugar Bill, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani assured the Upper House that the foreign minister would brief the Senate on the issue as soon as the US president accords consent to the bill.
The Nation (editorial)
Published: October 2, 2009
PRIME Minister Gilani has once more revealed a rather confused mind, especially in the context of national issues. He has declared that it was premature to take the issue of the Kerry Lugar Bill to the Parliament. This is absurd because if anything it is already late in that an early discussion of this Bill, with the debilitating conditionalities, would have reinforced the Pakistani leadership’s position to seek their retraction before the Bill became law. In other words, backed by parliamentary support, the government could have told the US Congress and the Obama Administration that the Parliament was not prepared to accept the intrusive and destabilizing conditionalities. Therefore, if the US wanted to continue to seek Pakistan’s support in the “war on terror” it would have to remove these conditionalities.
Now that does not be possible. In any event, contrary to what the Prime Minister has stated, it is high time the bill was put before parliament, if the government is serious about bolstering the democratic process.
b) Aid never reaches the people who need it
The News International
Friday, October 02, 2009
Making use of aid
By Dr Masooda Bano
The US House of Representatives has reached a consensus to continue to direct US aid flows to Pakistan by approving a five-year support package of 1.5 million per annum going to 2014. The good news is that this money is meant to be primarily used for education and infrastructure. Any external support aimed at improving Pakistan’s education sector is, of course, always welcome. The issue, however, is to ensure that the aid is actually spent on the selected sector. The aid utilisation trends in Pakistan have historically been far from impressive.
Outright corruption and mismanagement have often resulted in development aid being largely misspent. Since the Sept 11 attacks, the problem has grown: since the donors are now channelling aid to Pakistan in a bid to curtail militancy they have started to use aid as a leverage to make the government agree to counter-militancy measures rather than ensuring that it is actually spent on the relevant sector. If these new approved funds from the US are to make any contribution to the Pakistan’s education sector, this trend for sure has to be checked.
Oct. 2, 2009
The begging bowl
By A. H. Khayal
Financially, Pakistan has always been dependent on foreign loans, foreign charity and the remittances of the Pakistanis abroad. The size of Pakistan’s loans-cum-charity bowl has been steadily growing. We can shatter the bowl only by becoming self-reliant. Self-reliance would mean immense sacrifices on the part of the affluent classes. The more the sacrifices, the greater the self-reliance. But would the ‘luxury-addict’ classes be willing to sacrifice some of their luxuries for making the country self-reliant? Not the remotest possibility. Let the addicts enjoy their addiction. And let the bowl keep on growing. Pakistan and the bowl have become synonyms.
Unfortunately, the bowl is a very partial creature. Whatever it collects is for the rulers. The rulers spend it as they fancy to spend it. Obviously, the bowl is the greatest source of the rulers’ political strength. The masses are extremely unlucky. The bowl has nothing for them but utter indifference. They keep looking at the bowl with begging eyes. The bowl keeps hilariously laughing at them.
c) Ceding sovereignty (with trailing rebuttal and clarification)
The News International
Friday, October 02, 2009
Turning Pakistan into a client state
By Dr Muzaffar Iqbal
With the passage of the “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009” in the US Congress on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, Pakistan has formally entered the status of a client state. The term client state, understood in its broad meaning, is synonymous with terms such as “satellite state”, “puppet state”, “neo-colony”, and “vassal state”. In the post-WWII era, this term was used for states ruled by dictators and supported by either the United States or the Soviet Union. During the Cold War era, these states included Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua up until 1979, Cuba up until 1959, and Chile under the regime of General Pinochet, South Vietnam, and Iran up until 1979. In its contemporary usage, a client state does not have to be a state ruled by a dictator, more often than not, it is a proxy democracy which is economically dependent on a more powerful nation. This economic dependence has now been formalized in the “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009”, which will be signed by President Obama in the near future. Once signed by him and formally accepted by the government of Pakistan, the government of the United States of America will “earn the right to monitor” Pakistan in a variety of ways under Sec 302 of the Act.
The News International
Friday, October 02, 2009
Kerry-Lugar: bill or a document of surrender
By Ayaz Amir
The Kerry-Lugar bill, just passed by the US Congress and expected to be signed soon by President Obama, leaves an odd taste in the mouth. After wading through its tortuous prose, Pakistan seems less an ally than a rogue state straight out of the pages of science fiction. A convicted rapist out on parole would be required to give fewer assurances of good conduct for the future than Pakistan is required to give in order to receive assistance under this legislation.
And for this the Pakistani nation is expected to go down on its knees and thank the US for its unbounded munificence. If this is American friendship, hostility sounds like a better option.
Oct. 2, 2009
The Kerry-Lugar straitjacket
by Dr Ijaz Ahsan
The Webster’s Dictionary describes a straitjacket as a “garment of strong material used to bind the body, and especially the arms closely restraining” the movements of a violent, usually insane, person who could harm himself or others. The Kerry-Lugar aid bill with strings attached passed by the US Senate a few days ago, by which Pakistan will get $1.5 billion per year for the next five years, is just such a jacket. It is designed to prevent the country from ‘harming itself or others’. The conditions attached to the US aid seem to be the first of their kind in international diplomacy.
September 30, 2009
Benchmarks for ceding sovereignty
Shireen M Mazari
Absurdities have become the hallmark of the Pakistani ruling elite for some time now, but the situation has probably never been as bizarre as it is at present. Take the case of the Pakistan-US relationship which is fast degenerating into a client-master equation. We had official Pakistani circles jumping for joy with the passage of the Kerry-Lugar bill through the US Senate. Pakistanâ€™s man in Washington, at least in designation, saw it as a personal triumph that he got this bill through its first major hurdle, and our leadership expressed unqualified exuberance in welcoming this event. So why are so many of us filled with trepidation when we see the content of this bill – something most of the Zardari party loyalists have never bothered to do.
Wednesday, 30 Sep, 2009
The price of aid
By Anees Jillani
This is the price that a country like Pakistan has to pay for taking aid from others. Either it says no, or signs on the dotted line with a wide grin on its face, as if this was the best thing that has happened to the country since independence.
The above refers only to one section of the Kerry-Lugar Bill. It contains many other restrictions, including placing limitations on arms transfers; requiring that all assistance can only be provided to civilian authorities of a civilian government of Pakistan; submission of a Pakistan Assistance Strategy Report within 45 days of the date of enactment of the act; development of a comprehensive inter-agency regional security strategy to eliminate terrorist threats and close terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, including by working with the Government of Pakistan and other relevant governments and organisations in the region and elsewhere to implement effective counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts in and near the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including Fata, the NWFP, parts of Balochistan and parts of Punjab; and the submission of monitoring reports.
Thank God, Kerry and Lugar did not think of getting the name of Pakistan changed!
The News International
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Dr Farrukh Saleem
Make no mistake, the Kerry-Lugar Bill is to safeguard and protect the interests of the US. The authors of the bill along with each and every mover of the bill is under legal obligation to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the interests of the Untied States. Lo and behold! Pak-US interests can converge.
On the brighter side of things, beggars can never be bankrupts and beggars shall fear no rebellion.
Dawn Bureau Report
Thursday, 01 Oct, 2009
Kerry Lugar bill opposed in Sindh
HYDERABAD: Leaders of different political parties reacted harshly to the Kerry Lugar Bill issue and likened it to handing over the sovereignty of Pakistan to the US authorities.
d) Now comes the rebuttal, from which I apparently borrowed when I said let’s indulge in some “conspiracy theory,” imagining that IOC member Ali was acting as a “patriot.” Notice that even Almeida is not without reservations
Friday, 02 Oct, 2009
Deciphering the US aid bill
By Cyril Almeida
Never let the facts get in the way of a good debate. That pretty much sums up the approach to the Kerry-Lugar/Berman bill, officially, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, now approved by Congress.
How angry are some of the critics? Very angry; frothing-at-the-mouth angry. A PPP government has once again sold the country, its sovereignty, its very soul to the Yanks. And going by some of the wildest claims, there doesnâ€™t seem to be a shortage of patriots lining up to water the tree of liberty here with their blood. Pakistan will be saved. The conspiracy to destroy us will be defeated.
Frankly, the conditions themselves are arguably what the state should be doing in any case; we need to be rid of the curse of militancy and we need to do it for our own good. But in the present context, it matters who is asking us to do it and why.
From a hard-nosed, realpolitik perspective â€“ and you cannot ignore that in statecraft â€“ the references amount to Indian security concerns inserting themselves into an American bill meant to provide democratic, economic and development assistance to Pakistan.
So even if you ignore, and you should, the most outrageous bile of the billâ€™s critics, the more subtle point is reinforced: we remain a tactical ally of the US, not a strategic partner.
Going forward, what that really calls for is a serious, measured, thoughtful debate about our approach to the US specifically and our grand, national security and national military strategies generally. But donâ€™t bet on that happening. Remember, we donâ€™t let the facts get in the way of a good debate.
e) But must we really wade through pages upon pages of the bill’s tortuous prose to see if Iqbal, Amir, Ahsan, Mazari, Jillani and Saleem are so “frothing-in-the-mouth angry” that they can’t read straight? No, we have a clarification, the issue is a broad one
Sunday October 4, 2009
The denial of reality
THE verbal wasteland that largely makes up Pakistanâ€™s media bubbles away with what is taken for debate by us locals but which is in the main sheer rhetoric, with none listening to the other.
The Enhancement Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, familiarly known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill, is the latest in the unending list of issues that temporarily overwhelm the national news. The national hostility to America is normal â€“ when one is beholden resentment is the outcome.
As wrote my young friend Cyril Almeida in these columns on Friday, all that the act does is tell Pakistan what it should, in its own national interest (and in the US interest which is supreme) be up to or not up to. In this rigidly unequal relationship we, as a struggling Third World nation, have little option â€“ begging bowl extended as it has been for 62 years â€“ but to knuckle under and make an attempt to conform to international democratic standards.
f) If that’s the reality, here’s to changing it, here’s to the millions upon millions of Pakistanis who say to America take your money and shove it
g) It’s three days later and a miracle is occurring, the crazed patriots have hoisted the visionary Ali onto their shoulders and are marching to victory! And he who tells a bigger tale will have to tell a lie.
Jim Rissman is an information specialist for the state of Wisconsin and the sometimes head researcher for the Chicago-based group Voices for Creative Nonviolence.