Skip to comments.Obama pledges $7.5 billion "down payment" to Pakistan for US security
Posted on 03/27/2009 9:41:18 AM PDT by MyTwoCopperCoins
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Friday affirmed a tripling of US economic aid to Pakistan to $ 1.5 billion annually over the next five years, calling it a ''down payment'' for Americas future security even though he unambiguously accused the country of being a safe haven for al-Qaida and its leadership.
Obama announced what seemed like a buy-out strategy while unveiling his administrations new Af-Pak policy in which there was a pronounced shift to Pakistan as the central front in the so-called war on terror. In an oblique indictment of Islamabad, Obama implied that Pakistan's military strategy was the root cause of trouble in Afghanistan, and Pakistani actions, or inaction, was hurting its own people and Afghans, besides threatening the whole world.
''Make no mistake: al-Qaida and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within,'' Obama warned, even as he repeatedly expressed support for the Pakistani people and outlined policies to stabilize the troubled country. ''That is why we must focus our military assistance on the tools, training and support that Pakistan needs to root out the terrorists.''
However, in a clear message to Islamabad that it has to shape up and deliver, the US President warned that it would be held accountable for the generous aid he is requesting from Congress.
''After years of mixed results, we will not provide a blank check. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al-Qaida and the violent extremists within its borders. And we will insist that action be taken one way or another when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets,'' he said.
Obama also announced that together with the United Nations, Washington will forge a new Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan ''that brings together all countries who should have a stake in the security of the region,'' including India, Iran, Russia, China, Gulf nations, Central Asian states, and NATO allies. ''None of these nations benefit from a base for al-Qaida terrorists, and a region that descends into chaos. All have a stake in the promise of lasting peace and security and development,'' he said.
Obama also acknowledged in passing Pakistans insistence that its troublesome security outlook was tied to disputes with India, saying ''to lessen tensions between two nuclear-armed nations that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation, we (US) must pursue constructive diplomacy with both India and Pakistan.'' He did not elaborate.
The US President announced that over and above the 17,000 additional troops Washington was deploying to Afghanistan, he would be sending a further 4000 troops to train Afghan security forces whose eventual readiness to take over duties would pave way for a US withdrawal. ( Watch )
Obama was blunt in repeatedly putting Pakistan and not Afghanistan, which he suggested was a victim in the cross-hairs of the war on terror.
''Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al-Qaida is actively planning attacks on the US. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan...They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe-haven to hide, train terrorists, communicate with followers, plot attacks, and send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan.'' he said, adding that the future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of Pakistan.
Obama also sought to distance Washington from Pakistans overarching military, saying the US has great respect for the Pakistani people and empathized with their struggles and aspirations which was the same as the people all across the world.
''The single greatest threat to that future comes from al-Qaida and their extremist allies, and that is why we must stand together,'' he said.
26 Mar 2009, 1340 hrs IST
WASHINGTON: Terrorism pays. That may well be the message the United States and its allies send out to the world this week as they line up billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan despite the countrys military and intelligence agencies being implicated by American officials in acts and practice of terrorism.
Ignoring confirmation about the Pakistans continued support and use of terrorism obtained through electronic surveillance and informants, and even brazen affirmation by Pakistani officialdom itself, the Obama administration is set to lavish a bonanza that might eventually add up to more than $ 30-$ 35 billion over the next decade.
About half the windfall will come from the US and the other half from its allies such as Japan, EU, and Gulf countries.
Washington is set to announce its largesse of around $ 15 billion of US tax-payer money in course of its new Af-Pak policy to be unveiled Friday, followed by a conference in Tokyo on April 17 of the so-called ''Friends of Pakistan'' where Islamabad is pitching for $ 10 billion.
This is in addition to the $ 7.6 billion pledged by the IMF and various donors, all at the instance of the United States, which believes Pakistan will disintegrate, with disastrous consequences all around, if it is not rescued with massive amounts of aid.
Congressional staff and sources associated with drawing up the aid package say there will be stringent conditions and tough oversight attached to the assistance, but critics of the policy regard the assurances as credulous. The Indian government has not opposed the package. ''If they (the United States) have not learned from the past, there is little we can do,'' one official said on background, referring to the Reagan era bonanza when untrammeled support for Pakistans military emboldened the country to adopt terrorism as a state policy.
That policy is still very much in place, going by a stunning page one New York Times account on Thursday in which Pakistani officials admit first-hand knowledge of ties between the ISI and extremists and even justify. They tell the paper that the contacts are less threatening than the American officials depict and are part of a strategy to maintain influence in Afghanistan for the day when American forces would withdraw and leave what they fear could be a power vacuum to be filled by India.
''In intelligence, you have to be in contact with your enemy or you are running blind,'' the paper quotes a senior Pakistani military officer as describing Islamabads strategy of backing the terrorists. But evidently, Pakistan's activity constitutes more than just contact with the enemy.
The NYT account, striking for the candid detail revealed by unnamed US and Pakistani officials, said Pakistans support to the Taliban and other militant outfits is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of the ISI. The report says the ISI also shared intelligence with Lashkar-e-Taiba accused in the Mumbai attacks and ''provided protection for it.'' It did say when this cooperation and protection took place.
But other new details reveal that the ISI is aiding a broader array of militant outfits with more diverse types of support than was previously known, even months after Pakistani officials said that the days of the ISIs playing a double game had ended, the paper reported. One such outfit is the Haqqani network, which by American accounts bombed the Indian Embassy in Kabul with help from the ISI.
The attack killed 54 people, including an Indian diplomat and a military commander. Pakistans army chief Pervez Kiyani, a former ISI Director-General, subsequently described the Haqqani network as Pakistans ''strategic asset.''
But according to the NYT, the ISIs S wing not only helps such networks with fuel and ammunition to fight American troops in Afghanistan, but also replenishes its ranks with recruits from madrassas in Pakistan. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections, it said.
None of this appears to have made a whit of a difference in the planned US largesse for Pakistan. If anything, US officials and analysts argue it is all the more reason to rush aid to Pakistan so that its democracy and social sector can be strengthened and it can be walked away from the abyss. ''If there is a better way to do this, we are all ears,'' a senior Congressional aide involved in the process, said. While some analysts say that Pakistan extracts aid by pointing a gun to its own head, key figures in the Washington establishment don't want to take the chance that Pakistan ends up falling into the abyss.
US officials, who typically make strenuous effort to shield the Pakistani leadership from charges of fomenting terrorism, maintain that mid-level ISI operatives cultivate relationships that are not approved by their bosses. They say it is unlikely that top officials in Islamabad are directly coordinating the clandestine efforts. But Pakistani officials themselves appear to scoff at American credulity in the NYT report, saying it is part of their long term strategy to keep their options open when the U.S withdraws from Afghanistan.
That expectation got a boost this week when US President Barack Obama spoke of an ''exit strategy'' in Afghanistan. Although Obama did not specifically refer to any troop withdrawals (on the contrary, he has just directed induction of 17,000 more troops), the fact that Washington is even contemplating an exit strategy seems to justify Pakistans outlook of keeping its Taliban and terrorism powder dry.
Is this before or after he attacks them? Didn’t he say he’d attack our allies and negotiate with our enemies?
Hussein lurves the Taliban!
That’s $1.5 billion that will get funneled to the very people we’re trying to defeat.
$ 1.5 Billion will go a long, long way in Afghanistan / Pakistan.
No it won’t - where did our money ever go a long way when given away by the government.
Send it in Zimbabwe dollars.
Another reason NOT to pay your taxes.
That’s $1.5 Billion a year for five years. Where is he going to get this money? From our taxes. All he has to do is tell Pakistan to handle their problem and we will handle ours. No money should change hands. This guy is going to break this country, one way or another.
I think you missed the point. The Taliban is a low overhead operation. Most of that money will buys arms to use against us. The Taliban won't be spending it on environmental impact reports, litigation, permits or entitlement programs. They get a lot more "bang" for their buck. Pun intended.
Hey, it woiks in Joisey.
Hussein giving away our treaure to his fellow Muslims?
The only two land routes we have are through Pakistan or through Uzbekistan (I think — it's one of the “stans”). Our options are the Russians or the Pakis. Both are hostile and suspect alliances, HOWEVER, if I had to enforce the open supply line to our troops (and I'm no military genius), I'd put MY money on being able to keep them open in Pakistan. If we tried to enforce our open lines in Russia, we'd bring in the Chinese faster than you can say, “Screwed”.
Thus, therefore, if my only child is going to wind up in Afghanistan fighting the “real” :-( war, I want his cherished behind supplied, as safe as it is humanly possible to make it and with little or no resistance to keeping it so.
Our government would be better off giving $1.5 Billion a year to N. Dakota. But I guess our people don’t matter.
Well, ya know how it is - a billion here and a billion there and, pretty soon, it adds up to real money.
Have we hit the real money category, yet?
Continuing the path that Bush walked, too, they got over 11 Billion in arms and aid since 911, only to double bill the US for in many cases, imaginary operations not only by the Army but the Pakistani Navy too.
This is wonderful news.
Now the Pakistani generals and politicians will have enough scratch to build new golf courses, luxurious villas, shopping trips for the wives in Paris, and that holy grail, an ivy league education for the pampered offspring.
Taking care of his pals.
YEP! Soon people will wake up and figure this out.
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