WASHINGTON: US Senator John Kerry, one of the co-authors of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, has issued a list of ‘myths and facts’ about the proposed legislation also known as the Kerry-Lugar bill.
This is how he explained the bill:
Myth: The $7.5 billion authorised by the bill comes with strings attached for the people of Pakistan.
Fact: There are no conditions on Pakistan attached to these funds. There are, however, strict measures of financial accountability on these funds that Congress is imposing on the US executive branch — not the Pakistani government, to make sure the money is being spent properly and for the purposes intended.
Such accountability measures have been welcomed by Pakistani commentators to ensure that funds meant for schools, roads and clinics actually reach the Pakistani people and are not wasted.
Myth: The bill impinges on Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Fact: Nothing in the bill threatens Pakistani sovereignty.
Myth: The bill places onerous conditions on US military aid to Pakistan that interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs and imply that Pakistan supports terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
Fact: The conditions on military aid reinforce the stated policy of the government of Pakistan, major Pakistani opposition parties, and the Pakistani military and are the basis of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.
Myth: The bill requires US oversight on promotions and other internal operations of the Pakistani military.
Fact: There is absolutely no such requirement or desire.
Myth: The bill expands the Predator programme of drone attacks on targets within Pakistan.
Fact: There is absolutely nothing in the bill related to drones.
Myth: The bill funds activities within Pakistan by private US security firms, such as Dyncorp and Blackwater/Xe.
Fact: The bill does not include any language on private US security firms. The issue of how private security firms operate in Pakistan has nothing to do with this bill. The laws governing such firms —which are employed by many US embassies and consulates throughout the world — are not affected by this bill in any way.
Myth: The bill aims for an expanded US military footprint in Pakistan.
Fact: The bill does not provide a single dollar for US military operations. All of the money authorised in this bill is for non-military, civilian purposes.
Myth: The United States is expanding its physical footprint in Pakistan, using the bill as a justification for why the US Embassy in Islamabad needs more space and security.
Fact: As the US Embassy in Islamabad works diligently over the next five years to properly distribute the $7.5 billion to the people of Pakistan, it will need to take into account its own personnel and security needs to make sure it has the right staff with the right expertise on hand. This is common sense.
(Originally published in Dawn Newspaper on Saturday 10th October 2009)