New conditions incorporated into Pakistan aid bill -INDIA WINS!!!

  • By Anwar Iqbal

    Friday, 10 Apr, 2009 | 06:29 AM PST |

    WASHINGTON: Pakistan will have to undertake not to support any person or group involved in activities meant to hurt India and to allow US investigators access to individuals suspected of engaging in nuclear proliferation if it wants to qualify for a threefold increase in US economic assistance.

    The clause requiring such a pledge is incorporated in a bill moved in the US House of Representatives on April 2, seeking to provide $1.5 billion of annual assistance to Pakistan for a period of five years.

    Clause (J) of the bill, called the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement or the PEACE Act of 2009, requires Pakistan ‘not to support any person or group that conducts violence, sabotage, or other activities meant to instil fear or terror in India.’

    This means that Pakistan will have to ban all Kashmir groups involved in armed struggle in the valley against India.

    Clause (K) of the bill binds Pakistan to ensure access of US investigators to ‘individuals suspected of engaging in worldwide proliferation of nuclear materials, and restrict such individuals from travel or any other activity that could result in further proliferation.’

    If adopted, the act would enable US investigators to seek direct access to Dr A. Q. Khan and other members of his group accused of providing nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

    The Indian lobby on Capitol Hill played a key role in including the two clauses into the bill and had formed a special task force for this purpose.

    The Pakistani caucus, which once started as an effective lobbying group, has been rendered useless by the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. To ensure that it cannot function as an independent body, the embassy purged all senior people from a support group created to provide technical support to the caucus.

    Consequently, the Pakistan caucus, which on papers has the support of almost 100 lawmakers, has become a non-functioning body with no clout on the Hill.

    Although two separate bills are now being moved in the House and the Senate for tripling US economic assistance to Pakistan, the motivation for doing so did not come from the Pakistan Embassy or the lobbies.

    The motivating force behind the move is America’s fear that if not helped, Pakistan, a nuclear nation of 170 million people, could turn into a safe haven for terrorists armed with atomic weapons.

    The need for Pakistan’s help in fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and Fata also played a key role in motivating US lawmakers for seeking to increase the aid to Pakistan.

    But this did not prevent the House members from seeking strict restrictions against Pakistan in return for the aid.

    Clause (H) of the bill requires Pakistan not to provide any support, direction, guidance to, or acquiescence in the activities of, any person or group that engages in any degree in acts of violence or intimidation against civilians, civilian groups, or governmental entities.

    Clause (I) needs Pakistan to redouble its efforts to prevent the presence of the Taliban and Taliban-affiliated groups in Pakistan that support insurgents in Afghanistan.

    To ensure transparency and provide effective accountability of all US assistance and reimbursements provided to Pakistan, the bill wants Islamabad to improve counterterrorism financing and anti-money laundering laws to comply with international standards, to include applying for ‘Financial Action Task Force’ observer status and adhering to the United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

    The task force is an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of national and international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

    The bill also requires Pakistan to take all appropriate measures to adapt its armed forces to be able to conduct effective and sustained counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

    The bill, however, also recognises Pakistan as an invaluable friend and ally to the United States, ‘both in times of strife and in times of peace.’

    It notes that the two countries share many common goals, including combating terrorism and violent radicalism, solidifying democracy and rule of law in Pakistan, and promoting the social and material well-being of the people of Pakistan.

    The bill assures the Pakistani people that the United States seeks a ‘sustained, long-term, multifaceted relationship’ with Pakistan based on friendship between the peoples of the two countries, the commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and the mutual interests of stability, security, and prosperity.

    ‘It is critical for the United States to support Pakistan's democratic government and strengthen its democratic institutions, including its parliament and the judicial system,’ the bill notes.

    The bill also makes it clear that the United States supports Pakistan's struggle against extremist elements and ‘recognises the profound sacrifice made by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, including the loss of more than 1,600 soldiers since 2001 in combat with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist and terrorist groups.’

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