Articles of the year 2009

The Kerry-Lugar Bill Fallout
Published on October 17th, 2009

The US government finds itself in an unenviable situation today, as a result of its own duplicitous behaviour. Having decided that it would work better with the government of Benazir Bhutto it set about preparing the grounds for her smooth return to Pakistan, and to power. However as there were serious impediments in her way, such as undecided court cases, most of them involving lengthy jail sentence, and huge fines, an ordinance named the NRO was framed. Using the presidential decree which did not allow discussion or public debate, it was thrust upon a people who were powerless to oppose it short of triggering a bloodbath.

The main flaw in the Pakistani legal system is the ability to delay the legal process so that the day of judgement can be prolonged indefinitely - to benefit those with the money or power to avail these delays, by dint of medical certificates and so on. The saying, "justice delayed is justice denied" applies best to the manipulation of the legal system in Pakistan. With a new chief justice, these loopholes will be shutdown.

The Americans were quite sure that with the NRO in place, and a compliant president on board the promise of aid to Pakistan, with conditions attached, could be rammed through by a powerful president. The US staff in Pakistan, had been convinced that this plan would succeed, and by a 'powerful' and 'elected' president who had the 'hearts and minds' of the people. Sadly when the Kerry-Lugar Bill was brought into the open the proverbial poop hit the fan. The chattering classes immediately picked on the promotions of the armed forces, whilst ignoring the insidious reporting procedure on the nuclear policies. Which procedures can be argued as being a detriment to Pakistan's interest for years to come. No right-minded Pakistani will believe that we have not been sold down the river, regardless of the desk beating, and profanity in the National Assembly. The same bill could have been handled better; after all it was two years in the making, and rumour has it that the objectionable clauses were tacked on later by Slippery Sam our ambassador to Washington. Even poor Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador to Islamabad, has taken much flak for having been part of the covert amendments to the original. These clauses that have given the 'anti-Pakistan' bias to the bill.

While Ambassador Patterson was acting with her government's interests at heart, the same does not hold good for our ambassador, whose loyalties are to some extent anti-Pakistan, and suspect at the minimum. It also projects the Kerry-Lugar Bill and the American administration as putting Pakistan in a very tight spot. Being pro-America is one thing, but signing covert anti-Pakistan clauses is far more sinister. No amount of sugar coating can remove the bitter after taste. The PPP government is already putting its 'spin doctors' into play, but this may yet tear the Party apart. For the PPP has from its very inception been anti-US and to openly change its spots will not be acceptable to the rank and file. Ms Patterson should have known better.

The remnants of the Bush doctrine have continued to the present, and the flaws are only now surfacing. The clauses of the Kerry-Lugar Bill that have caused so much angst in Pakistan at all levels, are considered to be as odious as the NRO Bill which has served to unite all political parties against these two bills, and of course the US administration. This fallout could be prevented if the true picture had been relayed back to the State Department. It seems to be unfortunate, that the US has invited this anger towards itself, when it seemed to be doing so well. The US military command was working well with General Kayani, but the KLB may have stopped the euphoria short of a victory. Unfortunately, Slippery Sam's compulsion to being too clever and secretive is costing the country dear. The Americans should realise these two bills have the potential to poise a handful of people against the whole country - all the political parties, the religious parties, the MQM, and now the armed forces stand united. The Americans also stand isolated not realising that in this real world mirages can look inviting, but can be disastrous if the wrong choice is made. Islamabad is famous for its sycophants who have successfully derailed many leaders, by convincing them that they were invincible.

For the US to continue on this path spells danger for the region and the lives of thousands of people. The time has come to heed the voice of your partners.