Posts Tagged ‘kerry lugar bill’

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Would Imran Khan call Ron Paul to Bat?

January 9, 2012
American Congressman Ron Paul

Ron Paul speaks during the Republican Leadership Conference: 2011

Is it just me, or are seemingly incessant GOP debates the past few months allowing President Obama’s lack of public exposure to seem more and more like solid leadership? The Republican lineups simplistic, square and reactionary focus on “Anti-Obama” rhetoric especially on foreign policy has highlighted a resoundingly hawkish stance on Iran with little attention to our current engagements in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And while it may be expedient amongst a certain political base to try and one-up each other in aggressive foreign policy talk, only Ron Paul challenges the party line on Americas role in the world.

When it comes to Pakistan, compared to Democrats Republicans have a consistent history of preferring to work closely with the military establishment in Islamabad. While there is a level of bipartisanship post 9/11, (case in point is Obama’s continuation of Bush era drone use with little debate), Republicans have through the Cold War and beyond preferred dealing with the military establishment rather than focusing on democratic, or liberal institution building. Which is not necessarily an entirely erroneous  policy; part of the rationale is that state building is expensive in blood, toil, time and treasure and rarely feasible. Further, there are an endless number of constraints and uncertainties that profoundly hinder institution, or democratic state building in a place like Pakistan, rendering Republican policies simply pragmatic.

Which brings us to current policy: the bipartisan endorsed “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act” (S. 1707)  enacted in 2009 has yet to bear tangible fruit. Granted the aforementioned that institution building is time exhaustive, the fact remains that Pakistan has deteriorated politically, in the realm of security and economically. And having watched everyone from Gov. Romney, Sen. Santorun, Gov. Perry, Rep. Bachmann and yes even the soft spoken Gov. Huntsman, reiterates hawkish foreign policy while refusing to acknowledge a need for meaningful improvement. In the Republican camp only Rep. Ron Paul’s extreme calls for an isolationist posture offer some semblance of change. And because his prescriptions have yet to be tried, the utility of his ideas have yet to be tested. And now may be a time to consider his stance since they call for exactly what the Pakistani public wants right now.

Referring to our policies to Pakistan as nothing short of “Bombs for Bribes” Ron Paul acknowledges the nobility, yet inherent futility in calling for democratic institutions in places of strategic engagement. He understands that we are already engaged in “130 countries” with “700 bases around the world” and in this speech against the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, he bluntly explains:

the way we treat our fellow countries around the world is we tell them what to do and if they do it, we give them money. If they don’t we bomb them. Under this condition we are doing both. We are currently dropping bombs in Pakistan and innocent people get killed. If you want to promote our good values and democratic processes, you can’t antagonize the people”

He goes on to suggest dialogue and trade as alternatives to current policy. And although his statement is simplistic and was made in 2009, it highlights Ron Paul’s isolationist, more economically focused prescriptions on foreign policy that seek to reduce our military footprint abroad based on pragmatic constraints, like military and fiscal overstretch. And these calls seem more reasonable than before, especially when it comes to Pakistan and the fact that our aid has yet to yield satisfactory results. So while the Obama administration continues engagement and GOP candidates refuse to acknowledge much concern over current policy to Pakistan, can Ron Paul really be the only alternative available?

Someone once considered completely out of left, excuse me, right field, could be the reminder we need to moderate our engagement with countries of interest. Because what is interesting is that current rhetoric in Pakistan is very much in line with Ron Paul’s ideas. Ron Paul isn’t touting conspiracy theories, nor does he echo far left foreign policy thinkers like Noam Chomsky. Rather, his past statements on our engagement in Pakistan as “inadvertently causing chaos” and “violating security and sovereignty” are exactly what the average Pakistani seems to feel and hears about in their mainstream TV, and print media. Takeaway for us means, it’s a perception the is realistic; perhaps more so than current policy reflects.

In fact, legendary cricket star turned politician Imran Khan’s recent surge in popularity is in large part due to his highly critical foreign policy rhetoric that vociferously calls for D.C. to adopt a more isolationist stance so Pakistan might reclaim lost autonomy. Imran Khan steadily built support for his party on the continued observation that America’s “War on Terror” has intensified insecurity and his subsequent promises to curtail American involvement is a first step in alleviating Pakistan’s problems.

He underscores Ron Paul’s sentiment that perceptions urgently matter in a climate where American intervention is increasingly received hostilely.  Both politicians insistence on winnings hearts and minds renders Ron Paul’s foreign policy prescriptions worthy of consideration. Imran Khan’s recent ascendency and Governor Paul’s gradually increasing support marks a convergence in shifting to a direction of a less militarized approach to Pakistan. Two men once considered out of the realm of politician viability now increasingly resonate in their respective publics; policymakers ought to take note.

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @ THE FOREIGN POLICY ASSOCIATION

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The Power of Restraint : American Neutrality in Pakistan

December 21, 2009

American Neutrality is Boston Globe’s recommendation for U.S. policymakers as political uncertainty looms over Pakistan with last weeks repeal of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, effectively revoking Amnesty from corruption charges on thousands of government officials. Although political transition appears imminent in 2010 and comes as President Obama commits to an Af-Pak troop surge, effectively stepping up our engagement with Islamabad, the Boston Globe’s call for neutrality is wise given the current pool of potential leaders to choose from:

  • Nawaaz Sharif:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Quite simply:After two terms as prime minister, he’s remembered for rampant corruption, nuclear proliferation, and his penchant for cozying up to Islamist militants
  • Pervez Musharraf or Asif Zardari:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Well: “at the behest of Washington, General Pervez Musharraf, who was president at the time, arranged the amnesty that allowed Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, to return from exile so she could lead her Pakistan Peoples Party in elections. Bhutto was assassinated, and her husband became prime minister. Not without reason, many Pakistanis who are angry about Zardari’s corruption and ineffectiveness hold the United States responsible for imposing him on their country”
  • Pakistan Military:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Perpetuating rampant blame that one too many American backed military dictators have prevented democracy from ever taking root in Pakistan can’t help growing weariness of cooperation with our government.
      • Noteworthy example – Backing General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980’s with his leadership key to training the Mujahideen (now known as Al Qaeda) to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. Not coincidentally, Zia’s regime is remembered as the time Pakistan shifted from being a socially progressive, and moderate Islamic state, to imposing severe, fundamentalist religious policy reforms.
  • Chief Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry:
    • Reason We Should Remain Neutral: Under a sugar-coated banner of “democracy”, the Chief Justice is too blatantly partisan for us to support. His recent decision to repeal the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which set wheels in motion for regime change is widely understood as nothing short of a ploy for power and done in the politics of retribution.

This leaves neutrality as not only our most wise option, but also perhaps our most ethical route. Restraint in supporting any particular regime could mean history points one less finger in our direction should anything go less than perfect as we deepen involvement in Af-Pak. Simultaneously, neutrality assures Pakistani masses who are increasingly skeptical of cooperation with the United States that they have 100% autonomy in political processes.

Well publicized neutrality on a looming regime change could be a valuable opportunity to demonstrate a genuine interest in Pakistan as they transform politically and we require their support in the War on Terror.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @

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Identifying Demons in Pakistan

December 9, 2009

NYTIMES does a good job of publishing weekly articles on the Af-Pak situation. And a recent piece had a very enticing title: “The Demons that Haunt Pakistan” . It conjured deep curiosity and I delved into it anticipating the “demons” referred to how terrorists have paralyzed the country since 9/11.

Instead, the writer interviews one oddball Psychiatrist who says the “Gucci suit” wearing Americans are the real terrorists and Blackwater is luring his hired help to engage in a grand U.S. conspiracy to destroy Pakistan. Based on this sole, very erratic viewpoint, she presumes that like a “teenager” Pakistan is “self-conscious, emotional, quick to blame others for its troubles” and is where conspiracy theories are “pervasive”. But the presumption that Anti-Americanism supersedes resentment of actual terrorists who have is not well founded. In fact, only at the end of the article does she acknowledge the moderate Pakistani viewpoint:

“Islam treats foreigners according to their wishes,” It’s not what these people (terrorists) say — killing them or asking others to terrorize them,” he said contemptuously of the militants. “We must treat everybody equally. Christians, Jews, Muslims”

The author refers to this as the “unlikely exception”, but on the contrary, this perspective is more likely to be found in Pakistan. The gentleman expressing this view is working class and the masses are working class. They’re not doctors or professionals whom the author erroneously cites as the norm. Further, it’s the working classes who struggle most with terrorism, not the sliver of Pakistan’s elite population who maintain comforts despite political upheaval. So the  implication that demon-esque Anti Americanism is rooted in spectacular conspiracy theories is unlikely:

The majority masses are far more skeptical of Pakistani policymakers and domestic corruption than of Blackwater and the American, or Indian government for that matter.

More accurately on India, the author cites counter productive policies in Pakistan that maintained, rather than obliterated the feudal system and attributes the profound struggles of Partition to subsequent skepticism that has been harbored by both countries for one another since. Plus, having fought three wars in just 62 years, she explains it’s “natural that Pakistan’s security concerns focus more on its eastern border with India” and “not irrational” for Pakistan to resent American calls for change in this strategy.

The piece goes on to explain resentment of American policymaking viewed  as “U.S. single-mindedly pursues it’s own interests as it did in the 80’s when it was confronting the Soviets”. And therein lies skepticism for the United States in Pakistan: it’s rooted in abandoning ship post the Soviet-Afghan war. Leaving Pakistan with one of the worlds largest refugee problems well ISI/CIA trained extremist Islamist militants in a developing country hasn’t boded well 20 years later. As a partial result, Pakistan hasn’t developed, it’s deteriorated. Cooperation in our Afghan operation in the 80’s isn’t perceived as productive. Thus,

Current skepticism of U.S. expansion in the Af-Pak war is not a matter of irrational, conspiracy theories or bitterness for all things American, it comes after prolonged, and now daily struggle against extremist Islam, and terrorists who massacre Pakistanis almost daily since 9/11.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @

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Where’s the Improved Af-Pak Strategy?

December 3, 2009

President Obama stayed true to his word. During the presidential campaign last year, he vowed to hunt down Al Qaeda in Pakistan and after months of deliberation with Congress, his focus on deepening military involvement in the region has come to fruition. 30,000 more troops are promised to the Af-Pak war and in his speech yesterday, Obama focused squarely on the “inextricable” link Afghanistan and Pakistani security share. He insisted the “NWFP” is where terrorist leadership including 9/11 masterminds Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zwahiri find  “safe haven” and reiterated an urgency to pass the Kerry Lugar bill. But overall,

No new strategy was laid out. We’re sending more troops without any information that an improved plan is in place. With an increased focus on Pakistan knowing it has deteriorated since the War on Terror began, it is critical to see details of a more effective Af-Pak strategy.

Politicians, pundits, scholars, journalists and even bloggers like myself have called for increased intelligence sharing and military training from our end to Pakistani forces to uproot terrorists. And President Obama briefly, but finally acknowledged this would take place. However, it was said almost in passing relative to 9/11 rhetoric reminding us that we must stand in solidarity with our allies and expand our efforts in the war on terror. Which is important, however, after 8 long years of conflict and heavy taxpayer dollars allocated to this war in a downward economy, I expected at least some details of a revamped approach. Otherwise there’s a fear that more of the same will lead to more of the same: an escalation of our engagement and simultaneous worsening in the region.

There’s a very good piece in the Los Angeles Times explaining this troop surge is a replay of our approach in Iraq. The idea is that a temporary troop surge with predetermined date of withdrawal allows domestic security forces time to develop so that when our troops leave, they manage security to a large extent on their own. However, experts in the article point out that Afghanistan is vastly different from Iraq and a troop surge might not yield similar success in this case. Also, there’s little mention of Pakistan because a

troop surge would not apply to Pakistan where established military and paramilitary security forces already exist. Thus Obama’s square focus on Pakistan in tandem with a troop surge is incomplete without additional details on a revamped strategy.

And the Kerry Lugar bill is not sufficient. The fact that President Obama at the beginning of his speech still urges us to support the legislation despite widespread skepticism at home and in Pakistan, is testimony to how much a new plan is needed. Let’s hope we hear one soon.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @

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On Jinnah, Democracy, Leadership & Current Affairs in Pakistan

November 1, 2009

Zainab Interviews the Honorary Sharifuddin Pirzada



Q & A BREAKDOWN

PAST LEADERS: Jinnah

  1. 2:39 – 3:17 – Former BJP Parliamentarian Jaswant Singh authored a book on Jinnah that is receiving a lot of controversy, having actually worked with Jinnah, can you share your thoughts on the book ?
  2. 3:20 – 4:42 –  In recent interviews, Singh has said Muslims in India are “robbed of their psychological security” and basically downtrodden. He says what Jinnah should have done is left some advice for Indian Muslims who stayed back and didn’t migrate to Pakistan after partition, what do you think Jinnah might have said?
  3. 4:44-6:01 – He also refers to Jinnah as a “nationalist” not at all Anti-Indian, please expand
  4. 6:01-7:34 – Referring to politics, when Jinnah split from the Congress party eventually formulating a two state idea later in his career, were there any politics referring to Nehru or Gandhi that had an impact on decision making? Jaswant Singh makes a mention to some, what does your experience tell us?
  5. 7:35: – 8:15 –  You’ve mentioned previously that Jinnah was a self made man, more details?
  6. 8:15 –  8:55 : Tell us about your experience with Jinnah, its a rare treat for us to have your insight
  7. 8: 55 – 9:22 – Further details, conclusion on Jinnah.

“Jinnah had the Charm of Churchill, Dignity of de Gaulle, Magnetism of Mandela, and Objectivity of Obama”

CURRENT LEADERS : Musharraf

  1. 9:23 – 10:47 – Shifting to current leaders now, lets talk about Musharraf. You’ve got great experience, tell us about your work with the former General and Leader of Pakistan.
  2. 10:48 – 11:55 – How did your work with Musharraf expand during his tenure?
  3. 12:56 – 13:45 – You served on the national security council &  as senior advisor to Gen. Musharraf, tell us howthe context of national security in Pakistan changed after 9/11. Specifically what came on the agenda, what were the immediate concerns and interests and what drove the decision to behave the way Pakistan did at the time?
  4. 13:45 – 15:48 – Recent polls indicate a majority of pakistanis think Musharraf should be punished for treason as per laws under article 6 of the Constitution, how do you feel about that?
  5. 15:48 – 14:55 – Do you think it’s a valid case that Musharraf be tried for treason?
  6. 14:54 – 15:38 – Regarding an increasingly free media in Pakistan, please offer further insight
  7. 15:38 – 16:16 – There’s a contention that the currently free media be attributed to Benazir Bhutto’s regime wherein sateilite technology allowing expanded media was put in place, while others assign credit to Musharraf. Can you clarify this?
  8. 16:16 – 18:39 –   Do you think it was the state of emergency and sacking of the judiciary that caused Musharraf to lose elections?
  9. 18:42 – 19:35 – Final question on Musharraf, what do you think his legacy would be?

“The Media is very free in Pakistan, and Musharraf is to be given a great deal of credit for that”

CURRENT LEADERS : Zardari

  1. 19:48 – 20:55 – Recent military achievements in SWAT and international trade deals penned by Zardari paint a somewhat rosy picture for the future, what are your thoughts on him so far?

US – PAKISTAN RELATIONS:

  1. 20:57 – 23:14 – There’s a US special envoy in the region, drone attacks continue, the west is pushing for rapid democratization and are heavily investing in counterterrorism through cooperation with Pakistan while Islamabad hopes to secure itself and expand economically in this engagement. But there’s a long history of cooperation but still a lot of skepticism on both sides, do you think current engagement with a new administration who promises more diplomacy will yield different results than we’ve seen in this alliance?
  2. 23:14 – 24:52 – What advice might you offer President Obama or the State department in terms of engaging Pakistan?

“Pakistan was member of SEATO and CENTO but certain conditions were not fulfilled and there is a strong section of Pakistan who has reservations with a cordial relationship with the United States”

PAKISTAN & THE MUSLIM WORLD

  1. 24:55 – 25:11 – Your position at the Organization of Islamic Conference?
  2. 25:13 – 25:57 – On the Israeli Palestinian issue, how do you assess the current two state solution that Obama has put forward? How viable is it?
  3. 25:57 – 26:25 – What is Pakistan’s diplomatic/official stance on the Israeli Palestinian Issue?e Islamic Conference
  4. 12:25 – 26:35 – What are the main priorities of the Organization of the Islamic Conference?

“The Palestinian Issue followed by Kashmir are of top priority to the Organization of Islamic Conference”

PAKISTAN BORDER RELATIONS : INDIA & AFGHANISTAN:

  1. 26:35 – 27:42 – Manmohan Singh & Prime Minister Gilani at the NAAM summit this summer agreed to bracket issues of Terrorism and move forward on peace talks and trade issues. Such rhetoric is not new, and might not reach fruition, so do you see anything being resolved in Kashmir anytime soon, without the help of the US?
  2. 27:44 – 28:44 – Elections in Afghanistan are being contested between Abdullah Abdullah and incumbent Karzai. Pakistan doesn’t seem keen on either because both signal a warming of relations between Kabul & New Delhi which is believed to come at a direct expense to Islamabad. How do you feel about that?

America can facilitate peace talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, but on the whole, people of Kashmir are still suffering and struggling.  The approach of prime ministers has been positive, but an extremist element in India exists which doesn’t want this. To stop suffering in Kashmir, a solution must be reached.

PAKISTAN’S INTERNATIONAL FUTURE:

  1. 28:44 – How do you see geopolitics playing out in the next decade for Pakistan, given amplified US presence, including super embassies being constructed in Pakistan/Afghanistan, perpetually stalled relations with India, a very likely nuclear neighbor in Iran, and increasingly influential China and polarized Russia, what does Pakistan look like ten years from now?

“Pakistan in the next ten years must concentrate on democratic set up, economic development & maintaining cordial relatoins with Islamic countries. There are two great friends of Pakistan: Saudi Arabia, the other is China. That’s a good starting point”

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“Terrorism Anywhere is Terrorism Everywhere”

October 18, 2009

With Democrats weary of our engagement in the Af-Pak region becoming a Vietnam-esque quagmire, Republican’s remain hesitant to cut and run but public support is dwindling at just 40% for what Obama once said was our “war of necessity”. Apparently the “necessity” of this war is now shifted to the Pakistan front. BBC has a brief, but powerful article on how critical this war is to Pakistan by documenting thoughts of everyday citizens on the military’s recent offensive against terrorists. The piece reveals young men and women resoundingly support militarily obliterating insurgents who have spilled over from Afghanistan. But what is most pressing is the human element the article brings as we learn the unity with which each citizen describes the “fear” and “stresses” that have crept into their daily lives. Terrorism has brought a dangerous anxiety to Pakistan that didn’t exist prior to 9/11.

I was in Karachi on 9/11 and stayed for a few weeks before coming back to California. I remember President Musharraff coining the notion “Pehla Pakistan” (Pakistan First) and explaining the country would support the United States in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan because that was the right thing to do for Pakistan. But mostly I recall feeling sad, gripped: I stayed up all night on 9/11 watching footage and listening to news, not completely understanding what was happening. I was deeply saddened, yet not immediately scared. Sadness resounded minus physical fear because I was immediately safe. Pakistan was for the most part safe from terrorist activity. The Daniel Pearl incident was frightening, but it was well known that Al Qaeda had no significant presence or intent to attack within Pakistan. The BBC article today reveals a much different, severely deteriorated Pakistan.

News stories have kept me abreast of countless suicide attacks against civilians, but this particular article leaves me stunned. Again, I’m not immediately scared because I’m physically away from terrorists, but realizing that our efforts after 9/11 have not thwarted terrorists from attacking again is still saddening. Instead, terrorists continue to grip the daily lives of innocent civilians 8 years later. Secretary Clinton said “terrorism anywhere is terrorism everywhere” and that’s difficult to argue with today.

Looking beyond the fact that Pakistan is strategically poised to serve our geopolitical energy interests through Central Asia and is a good ally to have in the face of an ascending China, there’s a profound humanitarian reason to aid Pakistan in this situation.

Secretary Clinton’s remarks are reminiscent of her husbands policies. Former President Clinton’s doctrine can partially be defined as American intervention in even the most remote, far away regions for the sake of humanity which ultimately serves greater international interest (think American intervention in Bosnia). In a similar way, citizens living in constant fear beseeches us to address a perpetually devastated Afghanistan and an increasingly crippled Pakistan with a long term strategy of ensuring that terrorism is not just obliterated, but uprooted.

The difference between obliterating and uprooting terrorism is one of time. Obliterating a few thousand Taliban/Al Qaeda might be accomplished swiftly with a major Pakistan & US military offensive, through the heightened use of drones, and a stepped up counterinsurgency. But that runs a risk of tremendous collateral damage which can impoverish and ultimately isolate moderates against Pakistani and US forces. The situation is already being described as a “civil war” and a short term, merely military strategy runs the costly risk of hurting our long term plan of engaging Pakistan diplomatically (we have plans of creating massive embassies in the north). Uprooting terrorism on the other hand requires a longer term engagement because it involves  ‘winning hearts and minds“.

Winning hearts and minds can be achieved through sustainable economic development that tangibly alleviates pain for people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. An American hand in such development ultimately eliminates reasons for people to join terrorists who harbor anti-American ambitions.

The Kerry Lugar bill is a fair attempt at  addressing this issue, but fails to realize that in Pakistan, the military has historically and relative to civilian governments, been fairly efficient at achieving development in tandem with security. So while Democrats and Republicans debate the time frame for our engagement in the Af-Pak war, I think Obama’s administration should begin a U.S. strategy from the premise of uprooting terrorism. It’s no longer just about retributive justice of  “smoking them out” as Former President Bush put it. This war is expanding internationally at the expense of innocent civilians who increasingly fear, rather than welcome American assistance . Our strategy should aim to remove terrorists for the long haul, ensuring allies like Pakistan are securely comprised 0f  prosperous, welcoming citizens.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @

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When Martial Law = Democracy

October 15, 2009

What happens when a majority of one country’s citizens opt for martial law but the democratically elected government in power including judicial, executive and legislative branches are against a military takeover? It’s quite the political conundrum because either side offers legitimate democratic authority, but they’re diametrically opposed. A rational answer is to let the democratically elected government fulfill it’s term and allow citizens to elect politicians to office who will support martial law in the next term. That might work in a fully functional democracy backed by institutions that can uphold legitimacy and granted the state is sufficiently secure. However, in light of decreasing security, severe economic downturns and age old skepticism of U.S. actions in Pakistan, ever so gradually the country shifts it’s gaze toward the military.

Decreasing Security :: To offer partial explanation in a nutshell: Since 2001, terrorists fleeing Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, spilled over into Pakistan at the nebulous northern border areas which are historically autonomous from federal regulation. The fact that Pakistan already housed one of the worlds largest refugee populations allowed this spillover a massive and destitute demographic from which to exploit support. As a result, we now see unprecedented terrorism in Pakistan where Al Qaeda and the Taliban had no significant presence prior to 9/11.

Skepticism of U.S.’s Role in Pakistan :: Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947, bilateral realations with the United States have been defined by cooperation wherein Pakistan served as a proxy for U.S. Containment throughout the Cold War (i.e. security pacts like SEATO, CENTCOM, then aiding our Afghan led defense against Soviet incursions in the 1980’s). In exchange, Pakistan’s military with U.S. support, bolstered itself as the strongest, most efficient and stable institution in Pakistan. Some argue civilian governments and democratic institutions were thus never given an opportunity to compete with such a well funded, strongly backed military. And therein we find multifaceted dimensions that help explain the controversy over current U.S. support of Pakistan. Former Pakistan to U.S. ambassador Maleeha Lodhi describes the Kerry Lugar bill:

“the offending part of the legislation sets up the country as hired help and puts the military in the dock, presumed guilty on many counts and having to prove its innocence to Washington”

Pakistan is “hired help”, that’s the crux of  skepticism on the Kerry-Lugar bill. Concern is rooted in a long history of cooperation with the United States that some argue  created a behemoth military institution costing them a fair chance at democracy. In attempt to address that very concern, the Kerry Lugar bill mentions no military aid in exchange for cooperation on the War on Terror, unlike previous assistance packages from the Cold War. Ironically, bleak affairs in Pakistan now which are partially a result of pervious cooperation, particularly during the Soviet Afhgan war, prompt arguments that the military is exactly what needs support right now. Thus, the Lugar Bill receives not only skepticism from Pakistan’s strongest institution, but increasingly the public.

Although Secretary Clinton and Senators Kerry and Lugar have made no indication of altering the bill, to avoid  future skepticism and potential resentment of U.S. involvement in Pakistan it could be wise to make changes so as to not sideline the military at this critical period in our War on Terror. Unlike previous Republican presidencies, the Obama administration is committed to dealing with civilian governments in Pakistan. It’s a noble idea and even though i don’t suspect that as the military gains legitimacy the civilian government will collapse soon, we should think twice before riling such concern over a bill that has just a 5 year life span. Central and South Asia are critical regions for our interests and we may need to engage strategically positioned Pakistan in more years to come. So a backlash by the most powerful institution in that country is something we should anticipate, and work actively against.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @

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