The US Congress has laid down more conditions for more American aid to Pakistan. There is to be separate certification by the Secretary of State and Defence Secretary for military assistance and coalition support funds.
Before any further aid is delivered both the US Secretary of State and Defence Secretary will be required to certify that Pakistan is fully cooperating with the US in its counterterrorism efforts against the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al-Qaeda and other groups considered terrorists by the US government.
Pakistan will also be required to stop such groups from basing and their operations in the country and carrying out cross-border attacks against neighboring countries particularly Afghanistan and India.
The two Secretaries also require certification by the country’s military and intelligence agencies not to engage in extra-judicial into political and judicial processes in Pakistan.
The aid bill also requires the two secretaries to certify that Pakistan is taking genuine steps to prevent the proliferation of nuclear-related material and expertise and issue easy visas for US States visitors engaged in counterterrorism efforts and assistance programs in Pakistan.
Should these steps not be followed and Dr Shakil Afridi, understood to have helped the CIA in the finding of Osama Bin Laden, is released from prison the sum of USD 33 million in financial assistance to Pakistan will be withheld.
The Secretary of State will be required to submit a six monthly report to the Congress in regard to these primary requirements and assistance to Pakistan is to be suspended if his reports indicate that these benchmarks are not met with.
What this indicates is that America is looking for a way out to renege from its earlier military aid obligations to Pakistan and that the country will have to look for alternative sources for military supplies, arguably drawing even closer to Russia and China for arms purchases – and perhaps even more pertinently the region’s economy.
Richard Olson the US’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan recently informed US lawmakers, “The recent upturn in relations between India and Pakistan is quite significant. The (Indian and Pakistani) National Security Advisers met in Bangko attended the ‘Heart of Asia Conference’ and extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, and that was very well received”.
If, as Olsen admitted, “…we have placed in our assistance programmes…to build regional connectivity, and so the re-launch of a comprehensive (that will) hopefully, lead to the possibility of increased trade, for instance, between India and Pakistan”, American military aid to Pakistan will be of secondary consideration.
Should then, as hoped, reconciliation between Pakistan and India be effected and, trade between the two countries become the first focus of attention, America’s standing in Pakistan will come from the investments US private companies are prepared to make – not from the sale of military hardware.