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Pakistan editorial: The U.S. munificence

October 24, 2010

The following editorial is from The Frontier Post, Peshawar, Pakistan.

The U.S. munificence
©  The Frontier Post
October 24, 2010

With great fanfare has the Obama administration pledged $2 billion in military aid for Pakistan over five years, transporting instantly the gaggle of our ministers now in Washington for the so-called strategic dialogue into an ecstasy, with one eminence so enthused that he reversed the ruling Islamabad hierarchs’ very familiar tune to harp that it is not America that needs Pakistan but it is Pakistan that needs America. And mind you, the pledge is still to go for consent to the Congress, which the Obama White House has formally intimated recently that the Pakistani military is less than cooperative and sincere in fighting Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists and the ISI is hand-in-glove with Afghan Taliban “ensconced” in Pakistan, and where is tucked up forgetfully in some obscure niche for Congressional endorsement the bill for establishing Economic Opportunities Zones in our tribal areas that President Obama’s predecessor George Bush had announced five years ago touting them up as potentially revolutionary transformers of the region’s socio-economic configurations and its residents’ outlook.

With what caveats and when will the Congress approve the pledge is hard to tell. But surely it isn’t going to be a free lunch. One caveat, nonetheless, seems a potent possibility. It is the kill of what is known in the Congress jargon as the Leahy Amendment. The amendment disallows U.S. military aid or training to military units involved in human rights violations. Latching on a video footage of alleged killing of unarmed prisoners by men in Pakistan army uniform during anti-Taliban operations in Swat and South Waziristan, a purported episode which the army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has already ordered a high-level military panel to investigate, vowing action if found true, the amendment’s architect Senator Patrick Leahy says he is deeply concerned. He fumes for America’s interests in Pakistan he is not going to sleep over it. Infringement of human rights, he says, he cannot brook with in any event. Yes, human rights are too sacrosanct to trifle with. And every conscientious heart must condemn their infringement and insist on retribution at any rate.

The only problem is what U.S. military formations had Senator Leahy called for disbandment, whose personnel were killing innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and also proved guilty; in one instance, for murdering Afghan civilians in a fun game. Which U.S. military units he had asked to demobilise for using depleted nuclear-tipped munitions In Iraq in the first Gulf War that killed numerous civilians, including women and children, leaving many more with terminal cancerous diseases? Which U.S. air force squadrons he asked for decommissioning for using napalm bombs on Vietnamese civilian targets during Vietnam war and which U.S. military formations he called for rolling up for employing killer biological weapons like orange gas that has led to up to the procreation of a whole generation of deformed Vietnamese? And which CIA’s department has he demanded to be packed off for transferring terrorism suspects to countries practising prisoners’ torture in its infamous rendition operation since the 9/11 holocaust? But let us leave it at that. Doublespeak, double standards and hypocrisy, after all, come so natural to America’s grandees across the spectrum. More to the point, what was so big a deal about this military aid that our gaggle sprung into this foolish binge of rejoicing?

Indeed, this hardly matches what the U.S. owes us in arrears of reimbursement of money we have spent from our own treasury on fighting this spurious war on terror on their behest. That sum has statedly already shot up from $1.5 billion to approximately $2 billion. Had the delegation extracted that stuck-up money from Americans, that would have been some cause to be jolly about? But that remains stuck irretrievably, even apparently all set to mount higher, given the U.S. officialdom’s not-so-latent tactic to use this arrear as an arms-twister to extract undue concessions from us. Indeed, the prime minister was more accurate and forthright. He has said we have spent many times more on this war, which by conservative estimates has cost us nearly $40 billion in economic terms alone. Its social, psychological and political costs on us are just incalculable. From amongst the gaggle, the defence minister’s was the lone honest voice. He says America has hiked the prices of F-16s and Cobra helicopters, catapulting them beyond our purchasing reach. More sorely, it now transpires even the U.S. emergency relief assistance during this recent flooding havoc had come from their much-hyped $7.5 billion economic aid to Pakistan. Notably, this touted epoch-making and face-changing panacea is no charity or grant but a loan we have to pay back with interest thereon. So what was there to sing or dance about? If some of our grandees are schmucks, do they have to make a laughing stock of us too?


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