Last Updated 10/8 12:20 PM EST
In the latest indication yet of growing opposition to the conditions tied to a US offer of billions in aid, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Parvez Kayani lodged a formal protest with US General Stanley McChrystal, declaring that the military was “furious” at the observations made in the bill and comments made by US officials since its passage.
The Kerry-Lugar Bill, which the Senate passed last week, pledges to triple non-military aid to the economically struggling Pakistan. But the bill also issues demands about continuing the military offensives against militants across the nation, and also seeks to establish US oversight to ensure that the nation’s civilian government has primacy over its military.
The offer of aid will come under debate in Pakistan’s National Assembly, and amid growing uproar the debate is almost certain to be a contentious one, underscoring the rising opposition to American influence in and over the nation. Yet the National Assembly’s support will not be required to move the bill forward.
The ultimate decision lies with Pakistan’s controversial President Asif Ali Zardari. He has been a long-time advocate of closer ties with the US and his office claims the opposition to the bill is a personal insult to him. His dwindling supporters suggest that the government could basically ignore the requirements in the bill with impunity.
Gen. Kayani has long gone out of his way to avoid meddling in governmental affairs, a rarity for Pakistani military leaders in a nation with a rich history of coups d’etat. But the danger to the military’s long-standing independence is palpable, and may force an inevitable confrontation.
Zardari et al. doesn’t seem to get the objections, noting that President Musharraf never saw these kinds of complaints when he was negotiating aid deals. Yet Musharraf was the result of a coup himself, and served as both the leader of the military and the ostensibly “civilian” government during his reign, rendering questions of oversight between the two largely moot. If Zardari presses the battle between civilian and military government, everything in Pakistan’s history suggests the military will win.