America’s Kerry-Lugar Bill, which proposed to triple non-military aid to Pakistan but also included a myriad of strings is the topic of debate today in Pakistan’s National Assembly, and the controversial package saw widespread condemnation from across the board.
The few supporters of the bill, which the Zardari government has spoken out in favor of, suggest the bill is a positive sign and shows the US is through backing dictators in the region. Yet the bill also seeks to grant the US widespread oversight over the nation’s courts and military leading some to label it a de facto surrender.
Recent attention has also turned to the role of Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, in the language of the resolution. Haqqani, an outspoken advocate of US intervention in the region, reportedly used a US lobbying firm, which was paid millions of dollars by the Pakistani government, to lobby for the inclusion of provisions critical of the Pakistani government and which sought to limit the uses of the aid.
As concerning as the oversight provisions are in a nation increasingly distrustful of America’s growing influence, the Zardari faction insists Pakistan can virtually ignore them. Less easy to explain is language critical of the nation’s military (in particular the ISI), and demands that the military engage in fights with whoever the US designates as “militants.” It is that language, which several members of the military as well as the civilian opposition, have termed “insulting,” and will likely be the biggest obstacle in Zardari winning National Assembly approval for the bill.
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