The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Rushes to Clear ‘Myths’ From Pakistan Bill

Last updated: July 31, 2020 | October 08, 2009 | Stefano Mclaughlin
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Politico’s Laura Rozen had a good post this morning about agita on the Hill after the seemingly unimpeachable Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill that grants $7.5 billion in funding to Pakistan’s civilian government was received with antipathy by the Pakistani military. Yesterday, you’ll recall, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, endorsed the bill, saying he received assurances from its Senate architects, John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) of the Foreign Relations Committee, that it didn’t put any unreasonable conditions on the aid.

That appears not to be enough. Just now, the committee blasted out a sheet of talking points intended to address the fears of the Pakistani military, and anyone else who happens to fret over the bill. For instance:

MYTH: The bill places onerous conditions on U.S. military aid to Pakistan that interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs and imply that Pakistan supports terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

FACT: The conditions on military aid reinforce the stated policy of the Government of Pakistan, major Pakistani opposition parties, and the Pakistani military and are the basis of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.

Some of these myths are kind of baroque, like the one refuting the imaginary provision in the bill to place U.S. troops in Pakistan. Ah well.

Here’s the full fact-sheet:

The United States wants to transform its relationship with Pakistan into a deeper, broader, long-term strategic engagement with the people of Pakistan. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (S.1707), also known as the Kerry-Lugar bill, was designed to help turn the page in our bilateral relationship by moving beyond a military relationship to one where the United States engages directly with the people of Pakistan as a true ally and friend.

The heart of this bill gives the people of Pakistan $7.5 billion (Rs. 62,500 crore) over five years (2010-2014) in nonmilitary aid. This bill should be seen for what it is — a true sign of U.S. friendship to the people of Pakistan. The language in the bill was carefully negotiated between Senators Kerry and Lugar and Representative Berman with the concurrence of the U.S. State and Defense Departments. The bill was passed unanimously on a bipartisan basis by the U.S. Congress in September 2009.

Here is what the bill really does.

MYTH: The $7.5 billion (Rs. 62, 500 crores) authorized by the bill comes with strings attached for the people of Pakistan.

FACT: There are no conditions on Pakistan attached to these funds.

The $7.5 billion (Rs. 62,500 crore) authorized is all for non-military aid. These funds are unconditioned— they are a pledge of U.S. friendship to the Pakistani people. There are strict measures of financial accountability on these funds that Congress is imposing on the U.S. executive branch—not the Pakistani government, to make sure the money is being spent properly and for the purposes intended. Such accountability measures have been welcomed by Pakistani commentators to ensure that funds meant for schools, roads and clinics actually reach the Pakistani people and are not wasted.

MYTH: The bill impinges on Pakistan’s sovereignty.

FACT: Nothing in the bill threatens Pakistani sovereignty. Period.

This bill is an extended hand of friendship, from the people of America to the people of Pakistan. It will fund schools, roads, energy infrastructure, and medical clinics. Even when Americans are going through a deep recession and tough economic times, the United States is pledging $7.5 billion (Rs. 62,500 crore) as a long-term commitment to Pakistan. Those seeking to undermine this partnership, to advance their own narrow partisan or institutional agendas, are doing a serious disservice to the people of the United States and of Pakistan.

MYTH: The bill places onerous conditions on U.S. military aid to Pakistan that interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs and imply that Pakistan supports terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

FACT: The conditions on military aid reinforce the stated policy of the Government of Pakistan, major Pakistani opposition parties, and the Pakistani military and are the basis of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.

This bill does not discuss the levels of U.S. military aid to Pakistan, which will be determined year by year depending on events on the ground. The purpose of this bill is to focus on nonmilitary assistance to the people of Pakistan. To the extent that the bill authorizes military aid, the conditions require the President of the United States to certify to the U.S. Congress that:

  • Pakistan “is continuing to cooperate with the United States” on nuclear nonproliferation;
  • Pakistan “is making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups,” including Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their affiliates; and

  • The Pakistani military is not “subverting the political or judicial processes” of the nation.

Each of these conditions is the stated policy of the Pakistani government, the major Pakistani opposition parties, and the Pakistani military. The conditions ask nothing beyond what Pakistan’s own leaders have already promised. Pakistan and the United States share common goals to bolster security and democracy in the region and have been working together as allies towards these goals. The language in the bill reflects this understanding and commitment by the people of Pakistan in furthering regional stability and democracy.

MYTH: The bill requires U.S. oversight on promotions and other internal operations of the Pakistani military.

FACT: There is absolutely no such requirement or desire.

This disinformation stems from an item to be included in one of the monitoring reports: it requires the Secretary of State to describe the extent to which civilian authorities exercise control over the Pakistani military. It does not require such control, nor does it place any restriction whatsoever on Pakistan. This benchmark, like all benchmarks in the monitoring reports, is informational. It presents a data-point on which U.S. policy-makers can base decisions.

MYTH: The bill expands the Predator program of drone attacks on targets within Pakistan.

FACT: There is absolutely nothing in the bill related to drones.

This bill is about delivering economic development, education, health care, and other services to the people of Pakistan. There is nothing in this bill on the drone program.

MYTH: The bill funds activities within Pakistan by private U.S. security firms, such as Dyncorp and Blackwater/Xe.

FACT: The bill does not include any language on private U.S. security firms.

The issue of how private security firms operate in Pakistan has nothing to do with this bill. The laws governing such firms – which are employed by many U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world – are not affected by this bill in any way.

MYTH: The bill aims for an expanded U.S. military footprint in Pakistan.

FACT: The bill does not provide a single dollar for U.S. military operations.

All of the money authorized in this bill is for non-military, civilian purposes.

MYTH: The United States is expanding its physical footprint in Pakistan, using the bill as a justification for why the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad needs more space and security.

FACT: As the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad works diligently over the next five years to properly distribute the $7.5 billion (Rs. 62,500 crore) to the people of Pakistan, it will need to take into account its own personnel and security needs to make sure it has the right staff with the right expertise on hand. This is common sense.

As part of this bill, we are asking the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to take an enormous amount of responsibility and oversight. The Embassy may need to add on additional staff to help implement billions of dollars aid. This is a logical step and should not be read as anything more than that. Such staffing decisions will follow the normal course of conduct, as governed by agreements between the Governments of Pakistan and the United States.

Stefano Mclaughlin | For the first five years of his career, Stefano worked as a financial advisor on state and local tax matters, developing internal marketing technology for his multinational tax business. With over 12 years of experience designing high-performance web applications and interactive interactions, Stefano is now a marketing technology specialist and founder.

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