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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Neither Part of the Quid Nor the Quo!

In the current Spring issue of Washington Quarterly, Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet point out that US didn't get its money worth from Pak, all $10 billion worth of it - aid to Pak since 2001. I think it did buy support of Gen Mush and occasional and easily replaceable arrest of # 3 through #10 Taliban/al-Qaida men. They say for all the money spent, Pak military hasn't gotten better at fighting Taliban and al-Qaida forces. I wonder why Messers. Cohen and Chollet think Pak military was even attempting to do this. Most of the military aid was in the form of antimissile systems and fighter jets which invariably face east - away from the troubled area of NWFP.

Although foreign military financing is often justified to Congress as playing a critical role in the war on terrorism, in reality the weapons systems are often prestige items to help Pakistan in the event of war with India.26 When high-ranking Pakistani officials visit the U.S. secretary of defense, they are more likely to hand him a wish list of hardware than have a discussion about strategy.27 Looking at the total approved U.S. weapons sales, including weapons purchased without the benefit of direct U.S. assistance, Pakistan has spent $8.4 billion between 2002 and 2006. Most of this has been spent on weapons such as F-16s and other aircraft, anti-ship Harpoon Block II missiles, and antimissile defense systems. Few of these weapons are likely to provide much help in rooting out al Qaeda or the Taliban.

And there is little money, and even little monitoring, for social stability and infrastructure projects like modern education. The article looks at the total aid provided to Pak and where the money went. Most of the money was for coalition troops support. But the rest has no accountability attached to it, including $1.62 billion budget support - cash for Pak to do whatever it pleases. No wonder Pak economy has been growth at around 6% or more in the past few years.

They narrate a story showing parallels between now and US-Pak nexus in the 80s when US lead the proxy fight against the Soviets in Afghan.

It is history repeating itself, resembling the 1980s, when the United States established a quid pro quo with General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq to help fight the Soviets. Any efforts by U.S. officials to alter its terms to focus on internal reforms would prompt Zia’s reply, “Sir, what you are proposing is neither part of the quid nor the quo.” [Washington Quarterly]