In his budget proposal for 2012, President Obama has proposed $3.1 billion in aid to Pakistan. The aid is spread across various parts and will be provided partly under the five year Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative and Oversees Contingency Operations (OCO). This proposal comes even as the two countries stand-off over the Raymond Davis affair and the news of Pakistan expanding its nuclear weapons program.
Out of the $3.1 billion, $1.9 billion will go towards promoting a “secure, stable, democratic and prosperous Pakistan with a focus on energy, economic growth, agriculture, the delivery of health and education services, and strengthening the government of Pakistan’s capacity to govern effectively and accountably.” However, a recent US Inspector General’s report said that the US (in effect Pakistan) has failed to demonstrate that the $7.5 billion civilian aid package provided in 2009 has improved the availability of basic needs such as food, education, healthcare etc in Pakistan. The former Chairman of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), Mr. Khalid Mirza reiterated the lack of economic growth in Pakistan when he said that there is no clarity in the Pakistani government’s economic vision. The political and economic instability in Pakistan gives us no reason to believe that the new $1.9 billion will be spent wisely and to the benefit of the Pakistani people as intended.
Another $1.1 billion of the package will be dedicated to the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) set up for training Pakistani forces to better fight insurgents along the Western border with Afghanistan. Here again, Pakistan has not provided us sufficient reason to believe that the aid is being used only to fight terrorists and insurgents along its Western border, or the terrorist safe-havens within its own territory. Instead there have been news of an increase in Pakistan’s nuclear capability with the country having more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons; followed by doubts about the construction of a fourth plutonium reactor. US officials themselves are not convinced that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe, and are concerned about the volatility in the country.
But apparently US desperation in Afghanistan supersedes all other considerations, and the US is willing to overlook Pakistan’s inefficiency and transgressions in fighting terrorists and insurgents. The carrots and stick strategy is but a populist rhetoric, and the US is willing to forgo the sticks and appease Pakistan with carrots and more in the hope that Pakistan will help it win the war on terror. The irony of the situation is however, appalling.
The Obama administration, with its call for change, has not managed to change the US attitude on Pakistan, and continues to be willing to excuse all of its excesses. New Delhi has also been unsuccessful in breaking the cycle in spite of its ‘strong’ relations with Washington. All it gets is a couple of statements from the US showing support and sympathy for its position and threat from Pakistan. But when it comes to action, all is forgotten and Pakistan emerges the winner with billions in aid every year it fails. Probably India needs to learn diplomatic manipulation from its western neighbor.
Along with talking with the US administration and agencies, India should begin engaging the Indian-American community that has a large stake in the security of both the US and India. The increasing political participation and strength of the community should be harnessed by the Indian government to lobby the US to rethink the quantity and nature of economic assistance, and enforce strict accountability mechanisms for all aid to Pakistan. It is incumbent upon the Indian side to secure its own national security interests. The US cannot be expected to reprioritize its national interests and goals to align with Indian interests.