Obama joins world leaders in backing Pakistani Democracy

Much to the dismay of the government’s detractors and contrary to the vilification campaign going on in the country against the leadership, the US Senate voted on Thursday to triple non-military aid to Pakistan to roughly 1.5 billion dollars per year through 2014 in its effort to show the world that Pakistan is a critical and strategic ally.

The bill, passed unanimously, had been agreed upon between the Senate and House sponsors of legislation passed separately by each chamber earlier this year. The sponsors are Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar. The bill has incorporated improvements over the earlier version of the Kerry-Lugar Bill passed by the Senate and the House. The vital aspect of the bill is that its language is far less prescriptive and stringent than the original version. Specific references to India as well as AQ Khan have been eliminated while the language related to nuclear proliferation is markedly toned down – from “ensure access of US investigators to individual suspected” to receiving cooperation “in efforts such as providing relevant information from or direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks.” Richard Holbrooke, special US representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the Kerry-Lugar Bill will become law next week.

On Thursday, in an unprecedented show of support for Pakistan, major economic powers agreed to the formation of a multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) to help the country build its tribal areas which have been the worst victim of the fight against the militants.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity President Barack Obama, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gordon Brown co-chaired the meeting of Friends Democratic of Pakistan (FoDP).
President Asif Ali Zardari stressed the significance of Mr. Obama’s gesture, saying it reflected the confidence the international community had in the new democratic set-up in Pakistan. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the summit a ‘diplomatic success’, stating that it represented a vote of confidence in the Pakistani nation. “We have come a long way. Democracy has completed a full circle,” he said. “We have a message for the extremists: There’s no place for them in the civilized world.” The President went on to add, “A stable, prosperous Pakistan is the world’s greatest hope against the spread of extremism and terrorism.”

The total amount of the Bill passed by US Senate for the FY 2009 is $3021.0 m. $1147.5m would be given under the Head of Development and Reconstruction out of which $33.5m will be given under the Head of Child Survival and Health Program whereas Economic Support Fund would receive $1,114.0m while $1,102m will be made available for the country in FY2010 with $27.9m and $1,074.3m on Child Survival and Health Program and Economic Support Fund respectively.

Pakistan will receive a total of $1103.1m under the Head of Security Assistance out of which Foreign Military Financing would be $300.0m this year, whereas $700.0m have been allocated for Pakistan Counter Insurgency Fund; $13.3m would be spent on Non-Profit, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Issues. The Head of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement would receive a total of $87.5m while $2.3m would be spent under the Head of IMET. It is worthy to mention here that $298.0m, $22.7m, $155.2m and $4.0m respectively would be given to the country under the same Head in FY 2010.
Pakistan will receive a total of $255.4m under the Head of Humanitarian grant; further details are that Migration and Refugee Assistance will be given $69.6m while Food for Progress $31.0m, PL480 $36.3m and International Disaster Assistance will be given to the tune of $118.0m in the FY 2009. Migration and Refugee Assistance will receive $20.0m while no money has been reserved for Food for Progress, PL and International Disaster Assistance in the FY 2010.Total State Department ops will entail $2,506.0m in this fiscal year whereas it would be $1602.0m in the next fiscal year.

The Department of Defense will receive a total of $515.6m in which Counter Narcotics will receive an amount of $63.3m this year and $38.4m in the next financial year while $25.0m have been reserved on the name of FATA Authority this year.

Ensuring that the present government does not face any obstacle in its democratic dispensation, a condition in the Bill requires that the security forces of Pakistan do not subvert judicial processes. The aim of the legislation is to promote stability in the country.

It is worthy to mention here that the Bill underlines the importance of supporting Pakistan’s national security needs to fight the ongoing counterinsurgency and improve its border security and control. However, it does not specify any amount or percentage. This provides the Administration maximum flexibility and none of the conditions can set in motion automatic sanctions.

Critics will come out with all sorts of accusation but the fact of the matter is that the importance of FoDP cannot be underestimated. Heads of states and governments of more than twenty countries gathered under one roof to show their confidence in the democratic set-up in Islamabad, a fact which was also acknowledged by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who applauded Islamabad’s campaign to rid the restive border areas of violent extremism and bring stability to the region. The British leader commended the leadership of President Zardari and the role of armed forces for launching an effective offensive against the militants.

Brown said all member countries of the FoDP were unanimous in voicing their support for Pakistan towards addressing economic and security challenges facing the nation.

Earlier, addressing the meeting, US President Barack Obama announced that the Senate Thursday unanimously passed the long-awaited Kerry-Lugar bill. The measure will authorise $1.5 billion in economic assistance for Pakistan annually over five years. Obama reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to economic cooperation with Pakistan.

This has been a truly remarkable week for Pakistan on the world stage. Pakistan stands perhaps in the strongest diplomatic position in its sixty two year history. And perhaps the most important message that President Zardari sends to our nation — both its military leadership and to the people — is that democracy does indeed deliver.

Anti American Sentiments Hurt Pakistan’s Cause

This post originally appeared on Wasiq Ali’s blog this morning and was too important to not re-post here.

By Wasiq Ali

The Washington Post of September 25, 2009 carries a news story about the rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan titled Anti-U.S. Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say

As the story points out – “A new wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan has slowed the arrival of hundreds of U.S. civilian and military officials charged with implementing assistance programs, undermined cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and put American lives at risk, according to officials from both countries.”

Those who have leaked the story have deliberately chosen to do so at a time when the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) summit is going on.

Stories like these have been leaked by people who think they can harm President Asif Ali Zardari and Ambassador Husain Haqqani. However, what they fail to understand is that President Zardari and Ambassador Haqqani represent Pakistan and that in spreading such stories they are hurting Pakistan.

The international community is on the side of Pakistan and Pakistanis and wants to help them. We need trade, aid and assistance from our allies like the United States. The Kerry-Lugar bill which was just passed has increased American aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion every year for the next five years. This is time to strengthen Pakistan’s relations with the United States and not to attack the relationship.

The WP story has an interview with America-hater Shireen Mazari who states “I definitely have concerns about the Americans’ intentions here, especially that they would like to get access to our nuclear assets. The U.S. mind-set is suspicious of strong Muslim states, and there is a certain imperial arrogance in their behavior that Pakistanis like me don’t like.”

The way that Shireen Mazari has given an interview very clearly shows us that it is her lobby and associates who have leaked this story. From their point of view they think they are hurting the PPP-led government and ‘scoring points.’

But from the point of view of the average Pakistani they are hurting his livelihood and the future of his children. If more economic assistance and investment comes into the country then there will be more jobs, better schools, improved infrastructure and higher pay.

Instead of attacking people like Ambassador Haqqani as being pro-American we actually owe him a huge thanks for using all the skills at his and his embassy’s disposal to improve the US-Pakistan relationship. As the WP story states “At the highest levels, bilateral cooperation is said to be running smoothly. President Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met Thursday in New York with a gathering of Pakistan’s international ‘friends.’ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, meets regularly with his Pakistani counterpart, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani.”

However, “just below the top, officials in Islamabad and Washington say, the relationship is fraught with mutual suspicion and is under pressure so extreme that it threatens cooperation against the insurgents.”

What this means is that the leaders of both countries realize that it is in their benefit to move ahead, the problems are more at the mid and mid-to-lower level officials. It is interesting that the WP story says that a recent Pew Research Center poll “found considerable support for the “idea” of working with the United States to combat terrorism.” This means that the average Pakistani is supportive of American assistance. The problem comes from conspiracy theorists, anti-Americanists like Shireen Mazari and others who want to rile people over issues without realizing that this is going to hurt the country in the long term.

Another storm in a teacup, another dangerous distraction

There has been much chatter recently about security companies in Pakistan and whether that is a threat. This despite a complete lack of explanation for what the threat is, or any evidence that a threat exists at all. The latest story comes from a raid on the offices of Inter-Risk, a Pakistani security company that was hired to protect American officials with the US Embassy. This is more than just a storm in a teacup, though, it is a dangerous distraction from the real threats to Pakistan.

On Monday, Dawn published an editorial that quite nicely addresses the misinformation about Inter-Risk most heard among the chatter. First, there seem to be some undefined conspiracies about why Embassies are using private security companies in the first place. This is simply ridiculous. Almost all Embassies use private security companies of one sort or another, and it is no secret that American officials are at particular risk.

The media has been up in arms and spreading conspiracy theories about US Marines protecting the Embassy (even though that is common practice throughout the world). So what is left? Leave the Embassy with no security at all? I am positive that Baitullah Mehsud would have loved for Embassy officials to have no protection, but what peace loving Pakistani would support that? Besides, with Inter-Risk we are talking about a Pakistani security company. Now the media is spreading false rumours about our own security companies? Dawn makes the point perfectly:

First, American officials in particular face serious threats in Pakistan and they certainly need extra security. Since the possibility of marines protecting American officials has been vociferously rejected by the media and denied by the government only recently that leaves the option of private security guards. Second, private security companies operate by the dozen in Pakistan, protecting countless private citizens and properties, and every company trains its employees and provides them with weapons. So unless there is something in particular that the security firm assisting the Americans is doing wrong, there is little sense in opposing a firm that is after all providing jobs and training to Pakistanis.

In addition to the increasingly standard misinformation and conspiracies, this sort of conspiracy is especially dangerous b because it takes attention away from the real threat to Pakistan – the people who are actively trying to assassinate government leaders, kill our citizens, and take over our country. I am, of course, talking about the Taliban.

While Ahmed Qureshi and Shireen Mazari watch Mukhbir over and over to dream up new conspiracy stories, Pakistan’s true enemies are literally attacking our children.

Taliban militants on Tuesday bombed a mixed primary school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, which is troubled by frequent insurgent attacks, officials said.

“The school building, which consisted of three rooms was destroyed in the blast,” local police official Hamzullah Khan told AFP.

No children were killed in this attack, Alhamdulillah, but let us not forget that just recently Talibani militants brutally murdered a group of children in Pakistan. Militants just this week attempted to assassinate a government minister.

These stories of evil security forces with secret plans in Pakistan are fine for movie dramas. But Pakistan faces a real threat from an actual enemy that is attacking and killing our people. As the editors of Dawn quite correctly conclude,

We cannot afford Pakistanis regarding every white man as an American and every American as a spy or marine, for the last thing we need is to become more isolated from the world business, development and aid communities.

Nor can we afford to ignore the real danger from militants that is beating down our door.

Pakistan’s Conspiracy Theorists: Nationalists or Instability Creators

By Yahya Hussainy

English essayist and poet Samuel Johnson once said, Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel. By that well-known definition what should one think of the fact that ever since the civilian government came to power in Pakistan there has been a rise in the number of Pseudo-Patriots and Conspiracy Theorists?

In August 2005 PBS did a program titled Pakistan: In the Land of Conspiracy Theories where they said If you spend any time in Pakistan, you realize that it’s a land full of conspiracy theories: 9/11 was a Jewish Mossad plot; the Pakistan army is killing innocent Muslims in Waziristan at the behest of the Americans; Musharraf is only pretending to wage war against the terrorists in Waziristan so as to appease Washington. And there are endless Osama bin Laden intrigues — many Pakistanis believe that the hunt for the al Qaeda leader is just an excuse for the United States to intervene throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and that bin Laden will not be found until the Americans have conquered the entire Muslim world.

In May 2009 the New York Times published a piece titled A Grand Conspiracy Theory from Pakistan which talks about the various conspiracy theories floating in the Pakistani media including the idea that Osama Bin Laden may be Jewish.

Let us have a look at these so-called Super Patriots whose websites are called Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz, Pak Alert, Pak Spectator, Pak Defense, Rupee News and others. Who are they and what do they stand for?

Ahmed Quraishi is a Musharraf-sympathizing, democracy-hating, pseudo-journalist whose own website referred to him as the Master of Immaculate Deception.

A list of his various articles will give you an idea of his flow of thought – The Harpoons and Pakistans American Mess (http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/latest_col.php?id=105 ), How ODA 574 Installed Karzai, and Afghan Democracy (http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/article_detail.php?id=788 ), US Hummers Enter Pakistan, Undercover American Soldiers Swarm Islamabad (http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/article_detail.php?id=785 ), American NGO covers for Blackwater in Pakistan (http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/article_detail.php?id=766), US Engineering a New Disaster in Islamabad (http://pakalert.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/u-s-engineering-a-new-disaster-in-islamabad/ ), Whos Country is it anyway, Ours or US Think Tanks? (http://www.nowpublic.com/world/who-s-country-it-anyway-ours-or-u-s-think-tanks ), Indian Army to Deploy Prostitutes As a Women Battalion in Held Kashmir (http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/article_detail.php?id=794), and President Obama is lying about Pakistan (http://www.daily.pk/pakistan/pakistannews/9858-barack-obama-is-lying-about-pakistan.html).

Another conspiracy theorist is Moin Ansari who seems to have a sex fetish as his blog “Rupee News” is full of stories dealing with sex. For example, Bilawal Bhutto being naughty, Women in Bharat, Did Pakistani PM Gillani grope Sherry Rehman?, Kashmala Tariq turns up heat! Bites more than she can chew?, Sex Antics of Mohandas Gandhi: His Failures, Pedophilia, Adultery, Incest, Sexual Perversion & Fetishes, Sex Life of Indira Gandhi of India: The Indian Matahari:- Indira’s tryst with seduction.

Other posts on his website attack the mainstream Pakistani media Obituary of the Pakistani Medias 5th column: Can the Anti-Pakistan dawn.com halt Dawns slide towards irrelevancy and catalepsy? or reinforce the fear that the whole world is ganging up against Pakistan The headlines about Pakistan in the media: Understanding the Rupert Murdoch-Neocon-Hindutva doomsayer machine which is running scared of defeat and retreat

Another conspiracy theorist, Nayyar Zaidi, Washington Correspondent or Washington Bureau Chief of Pakistan’s Geo News TV (Geo Television Network), The News International (English newspaper) and Daily Jang (Urdu newspaper) was arrested in March 2008 by Ohio police on charges of trying to have sex with an under-age teenager and is currently in prison.

Nayyar Zaidis defense is that he was trapped for refusing to cooperate with the FBI and that was working on a story but he has failed to produce any email or letter proving that he had temporarily been assigned by his media group to stop being a political reporter (which is what he had been all his life) and venture into investigating predatory sexual behavior of adults (Zaidi is in his sixties) towards children.

The Master Conspiracy Theorist Shireen Mazari once described by the late Kahlid Hasan as Pakistans Ann Coulter–is in a class of her own. She worked for the Musharraf regime as Director General of the Pakistan Institute of Strategic Studies. Musharrafs own support of and by the United States is well known but Mazari saw no contradiction between working for someone she should, by her own reasoning, consider an American agent and continuing to spew anti-American conspiracy theories.

Mazaris articles on the US go the full gamut from – The Sneaking US occupation of Islamabad (http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/article_detail.php?id=782), Pakistan First: The devastating affects of appeasing India and kowtowing to the US (http://www.defence.pk/forums/strategic-geopolitical-issues/13163-pakistan-first-shireen-mazari-devastating-affects-appeasing-india-kowt.html ), Targeting Pakistan and silencing the Critics, (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=196326 ), Suffering Under Our Proxy Imperialists, (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=144885 ), US yearns for Pak capitulation (http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=13430 ), How many times will we be fooled by US (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=172494), Our Leaders Voluntary Submission to Colonization (http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=194868 ), Kerry-Lugar Bill: Still Seeking Control over Pakistan (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=175974 ), America: Dubious ally or outright enemy? (http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=119044 ), The Endgame target: A Weak Nuclear Defanged Pakistan (http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=182163 ).

Pakistanis must decide whether they want to be part of the real world or continue to enjoy the circus of rumors, almost always unfounded or subsequently disproven, that the conspiracy theory brigade has set up. One Abu Saad (is that the real name?) now claims to have created a Union of Patriotic Bloggers for Sovereign Pakistan (UPBSP). A better name for the grouping would be Union of Conspiracy Theorists of Pakistan (with Little Knowledge of the World and possibly some fetish or the other).

Kondracke: Pakistan Promises Progress in Asia

Columnist Morton Kondracke wrote in yesterday’s issue of the newspaper Roll Call that Pakistan is a bright spot among the difficulties present in South Asia and the Middle East, and that the US Congress has the opportunity to make a difference in the region by continuing support to Pakistan.

As late as five months ago, Pakistan appeared to be plunging into chaos — menaced by terrorists, mired in political turmoil and economically in crisis.

But, thanks to unexpected political leadership from Pakistan’s democratic government, a big Taliban scare and support from the international community, especially the United States, a lot has turned around.

Dozens of extremist leaders have been killed in U.S. missile strikes, including the Pakistani Taliban’s top leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the man responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The success of Predator-borne missile strikes bespeaks a high level of military, intelligence and political cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan — and success in penetrating hostile areas along the Afghan border to identify targets.

The US can help Pakistan in its struggle against militants by passing the Kerry-Lugar bill in Congress, says Kondracke:

Specifically, Congress needs finally to pass legislation, sponsored in the Senate by John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), authorizing $1.5 billion a year in long-term economic and security assistance.

More controversially, Congress and the Obama administration need to make it clear that the United States will do what it takes to prevent the Taliban from retaking neighboring Afghanistan.

Final passage of Kerry-Lugar — sponsored in the House by Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) — will authorize a tripling of U.S. assistance to Pakistan and make a statement that the United States is dedicated for the long haul to Pakistan’s social and economic progress.

Pakistan has made great improvement in the fight against militants and extremists, and the government has been working closely with other world leaders to turn around Pakistan’s economy in the midst of global recession. No nation can overcome all these challenges alone, though, and this support from the US would be a boost to the government as it works to establish Pakistan as a leader in the region.