Bush’s Pakistan policy under fire
ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: The crisis in Pakistan is deepening. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is under house arrest and calling for General Pervez Musharraf to resign and for the U.S. to offer him an exit strategy. There is violence in the streets, and most political parties are threatening to boycott elections. Since 2001, U.S. has poured $10 billion in military aid to Pakistan, expecting Musharraf to lead a vigorous assault against Taliban and Al Qaeda hideouts in the northwestern region of the country. As chaos spreads through the country, the Bush administration is under pressure from inside the U.S. and Europe to distance itself from Musharraf and the emergency powers he has assumed after suspending the constitution. President Bush has finally called for early elections and restoration of constitutional government. The Pentagon, however, has made it clear that military aid to Pakistan shall continue under all circumstances. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte will visit Pakistan this week, but the objective of his mission is still unclear.
TOM CASEY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: He will, in discussing the present situation there, be making the same kinds of points to the Pakistani officials he meets with that you’ve heard from the president, from the secretary and others, that being that we want to see an end to the state of emergency, we want to see elections move forward as quickly as possible, we want to see those elections take place in an atmosphere that allows for free, fair, and open competition, we want the elections to be representative of the will of the Pakistani people. —13 November 2007
NKWETA: While the Bush administration continues to deal with a general who fires judges, suspends civil liberties, and jails political opposition leaders, the leading contenders for the presidential nomination in the U.S. have only spoken in generalities. However, Senator Joseph Biden has now stepped forward with a new proposal to radically restructure U.S. aid to Pakistan, away from state-of-the-art weaponry and toward social and economic development.
JOSEPH BIDEN, U.S. SENATOR (D): Here are the four main elements which I believe should be a new Pakistan policy. First, we should triple non-security aid to $1.5 billion annually, at least for a decade. This aid would be unconditional. It’s our pledge to the Pakistani people. And instead of funding military hardware, we build schools, clinics, roads, provide health care, and actually help, help, underpin the vast, moderate majority in that country, to establish the democratic institutions and the framework of maintaining those institutions. Second, condition security on performance. We should base our security aid on clear results. We’re now spending over a billion dollars annually, and it’s not clear we’re getting our money’s worth. I’d spend more if we got better results, but a whole lot less if we don’t. Third, help Pakistan enjoy a democracy dividend. The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion–above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline. And I would tie future non-security aid– again above the guaranteed baseline– to Pakistan’s progress in developing international institutions and meeting good-governance norm, i.e. corruption. Four, engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers. This will involve everything from improved public diplomacy to educational exchanges, to high-impact projects that actually change people’s lives. —Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire, 8 November 2007