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American Aid to Pakistan: Ground Realities

By Vinay

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress. It has the power to “investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds, and shall make to the President…and to Congress…reports (and) recommendations looking to greater economy or efficiency in public expenditures”.

On June 25th GAO released a report revealing the misuse of billions of dollars by Pakistan which it was given under the U.S. Coalition Support Fund. Pakistan was promised $6.88 billion of which $5.56 billion were released to the Pak government for its support in America’s fight against terrorism. The money was intended to equip Pakistan army with sophisticated weapons and military know-how to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents efficiently and help America in its war in Afghanistan.

The GAO report revealed that 80% of that money was never used for the intended purpose but was diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Pakistan has again fooled America.

For Pakistan, India has always been the biggest problem and obsession. After 9/11, America threatened Pakistan if it did not cooperate with its war on terrorism. Musharraf himself revealed in his autobiography that US offered to bomb Pakistan to Stone Age. Musharraf smelled an opportunity and willingly joined the grand alliance against the wishes of his own people. But he was clever. The wily General struck a deal with US, in which US was to bestow Pakistan with billions of dollars. All the money was systematically misused and Mr.Bush, the fool was fooled time and again by none other than the General.

Pakistan and Afghanistan

The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and the North Western Frontier Provinces (NWFP) were always been the breeding grounds of Taliban under the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) and Pak military supervision. These areas enjoy autonomous administration and powerful control of Tribal leaders. The illegal narcotic trade is the main source of finance for the Pak army and its insurgents in their pursuit of holy war (Jihad) against India and now Afghanistan. The relation between successive governments and dictatorships in Pakistan with the tribal leaders is that of mutual benefit and conciliatory.

Pakistan always had larger interests in Afghanistan. During Russian occupation of Afghanistan during 1980s it successfully helped Taliban’s fight against the invader with the backing of USA. It never had any reasons to spoil its relations with the Taliban. What Paksitan did aftermeth of 9/11 was to make America and American tax payers look like dumb asses in front of the world. The Taliban and the AL-Qaeda were given open refuge in its land and were intelligently shielded from US military.

After 7 years of hidings now Taliban has full control over FATA and has set up a parallel government in some areas of NWFP. Recently BBC reported that Taliban has set up their own courts and is openly executing tribals for petty crimes. They are unleashing a wave of terror in the region. Pakistan looks helpless outside but all this wouldn’t have been possible without its unflinching support for the Taliban in the region.

Views of Obama and McCain regarding Pakistan

Obama in a speech regarding his foreign policy plans categorically reiterated that unilateral attack on Pakistan would be inevitable if he becomes the next President of USA. He has constantly refused to accept the refusal of Pakistan regarding Osama bin Laden’s presence there. But strangely he has endorsed a recent bill sponsored by Senator and the Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joe Biden to triple the aid to Pakistan for civilian purpose.

The bill triples non-military aid to Pakistan to USD 7.5 billion and sustains it over five years. The aid will be used for development purposes, like building schools, roads and clinics.

Again a blunder.

If the money is utilized for the real purpose, Pakistani people will really benefit but the thing is it won’t be. Asif Ali Zardari chairs (indirectly) the civilian government there and anyone who knows about his history surely can guess how the money would be mismanaged.

John McCain wants to increase financial aid to Pakistan and he fundamentally defers with Obama in one aspect i.e. military action against Pakistan. McCain wants a troop surge in Afghanistan and thereby passport to an unending war in the region. Any further aid to Pakistan will only strengthen ISI and its military plans against India and Afghanistan’s Karzai government.

Pakistan’s War against India in Afghanistan

The resurgent Taliban is giving a tough fight to the coalition forces in Afghanistan and also is waging a war against India’s presence there. All under the expert guidance of ISI.

It has conducted multiple attacks against Indian targets. Many of these have been concentrated in the southwest province of Nimroz (which is at the heart of the strategic Zarang-Delaram highway project being built under the auspices of the Indian army’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO). They include the abduction and murder of Ramankutty Maniyappan, an employee of BRO in November 2005; the killing of two soldiers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on 3 January this year in the first-ever suicide-attack on Indians in Afghanistan; and the killing of another ITBP trooper on 5 June. A suicide car-bombing in front of the Indian embassy in Kabul on the morning of 7 July killed at least 54 persons and wounded more than 140. The dead included four Indian nationals: the military attaché Brigadier R Mehta, press counselor V Venkata Rao, and two Indian paramilitary troopers (Ajai Pathania and Roop Singh) guarding the embassy.

The reason is India’s increasing popularity among many Afghans. India has committed $750 million for the reconstruction of war torn Afghanistan. India is the 5th largest fund donator in Afghanistan.

The successful elimination of India’s 4000 to 5000 strong presence there would enhance ISI’s chances of increasing its clout against civilian government back home and also within Taliban. That means more funds by means of illegal narcotic trade.

India must wake up and should strengthen its security in Afghanistan and should help Karzai government fight Taliban successfully. It also needs to convince US of futility of aiding Pakistan at this juncture. Every aid of US from 1960s to now has been misused by Pakistan. It is the civilians who are suffering there. If US is serious about helping Pakistan it can convince Pakistan government to allow it inside their territory and monitor the management of money and the constructions. It will definitely help. But Pakistan won’t do this. Zardari must be salivating at this moment.

I hope some common sense prevails among US politicians before it is too late.