Pakistan has to provide guarantees that it will not support terror against India before Washington doles out billions in fresh civil and military assistance to Islamabad, the US Congress has proposed.
A bill moved by Congressman Howard Berman, a California Democrat, implicitly condemns Pakistan with several references to its terror tactics against India, and seeks an end to such terror campaign in return for US aid.
Felicitously acronym-ed PEACE in reference to a country that is accused of waging a continuous war against India, the Pakistan Enduring Assistance Cooperation Enhancement act of 2009, or Peace act of 2009, says, among other things, that the US expects Pakistan “not to support any person or group that conducts violence, sabotage, or other activities meant to instill fear or terror in India.”
The bill also seeks an annual US Presidential determination that Pakistan “has demonstrated a sustained commitment to and made progress towards combating terrorist groups.”
This includes “taking into account the progress the Government of Pakistan has made with regard to ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, including Afghanistan National Security Forces, or against the territory of India or the people of India.”
Separately, a “Sense of Congress” contained in the bill says that “conditions in Pakistan will only be improved through regional coordination and cooperation, and long-term security in Pakistan depends on strengthening regional relationships among India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.”
The bill, which essentially seeks to triple US aid to Pakistan to $ 1.5 billion annual in addition to enhanced military assistance, is expected to be taken up when the Congress reconvenes on April 20 after its spring recess.
“This bill has one essential purpose: to strengthen our relationship with Pakistan,” Berman said after moving the legislation, adding, “To ensure that US assistance is truly benefiting the Pakistani people, the legislation requires rigorous oversight and auditing.”
Hard-line, militaristic elements in Pakistan are already chafing at the caveats and conditions, including making Islamabad accountable for proliferation activities. Even Pakistan’s civilian rulers are resentful, although the bill contains plenty of soothing language to assuage Pakistan’s sensitivities, with lavish references to its cooperation.
“The Obama administration should not worry about the proper use of its aid,” the Daily Times quoted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, as saying earlier this week. “How can they say that they want accountability? We have sacrificed much more than what they have sacrificed. We have sacrificed our soldiers. We have sacrificed our economy. What else do they want?”
What the US evidently wants is for Pakistan to permanently forswear use of terrorism as a policy option, a commitment that Pakistani officials are still reluctant to make in their edgy relationship with India and a consequent search for strategic depth. But Congressional aides say the US is determined to bring the errant country to heel this time.
US officials have also said that its military commanders would have control over how American military aid is spent and “none of it would be spent in a way that would give Pakistan a greater capacity to attack another country, such as India.” Indian officials, who are keenly following the passage of the legislation, say they are not holding their breath about such assurances.